(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Gerard or The world, the flesh, and the devil : a novel"

LIBRARY 

UHIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

RIVERSIDE 



GERARD 



OB 



THE WOELD, THE ELESH, AND THE DEVIL 



BY THE AUTHOR OF 

"LADY AUDLEY'S SECRET," "VIXEN," " ISHMAEL," 
"THE DAY AVILL COME" 

ETC. 



^tcvcotjjycti lEOitiott 



LONDON 
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO. 

LiailTED 
STATIONERS' HALL COURT 

1892 

'^AU rights resetved ] 






LONDON : 

PEIXTED Br WILLIAM CLOWES ANT) SOXS, LIMITED, 

STAMFORD STREET AXD CHAEISG CROSS. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. "I LOOK DOWN TO HIS FeET, BUT THAT'S A FaELE " 1 

II. "Oh, Pitiful Young Man, struck Blind with 

Beauty" ... ... ... ... 12 

III. "Through a Glass darkly" ... ... ... 16 

IV. "We are such Stuff as Dreams are made of" 30 
V. Life upon New Lines ... ... ... 45 

VI. The Face in the Vision ... ... ... 61 

VII. "It is an Oath," she said ... ... G8 

VIII. A Shadow across the Path ... ... ... 77 

IX. "I built my Soul a Lordly Pleasure-House" 90 

X. "Still One must lead some Life beyond" ... 105 
XI. "Earth being so Good, would Heaven seem 

Best?" ... ... ... ... ... 116 

XII. "Fob such Things must begin some Day" ... 120 

XIII. " Out went my Heart's Xew Fire, and left it 

Cold" 134 

XIV. " For Some must stand, and Some must fall or 

flee" ... ... ... ... 149 

XV. " A Man can have but One Life and One Death " 164 

XVI. "He is the very Soul of Bounty" ... 177 

XVU. "So, Quiet as Despair, I turned from him" ... 182 
XA'III. " Lost, lost ! One Moment knelled the Woe of 

Years" ... ... ... ... ... 190 

XIX. All along the River ... ... ... 196 

XX. "Some Dim Derision op Mysterious Lau<jhter" 211 

XXI. "As Gentle and as Jocund as a Jest" ... 221 

XXII. " Compare Dead Happiness with Living Woe "... 226 

XXIII. "Alas, why cam'st thou hither?"... ... 239 



IV 



Contents. 



CHAPTER „ 

XXrV. "Alas, fob me, then, my Good Days aee done 

XXV. "How COULD IT END IN ANY OTHEK WaY ? " ... 

XXVI. " Sing while he may, Man hath no Long Delight " 
XXVII. "Some Little Sound of Uneegaeded Teaks" 
XXVin. "Could Two Days live again op that Dead 
Yeae" 
XXIX. "And all shall Passe, and thus take I my 
Leave" ... 
XXX. "Fbom the Wakm Wild Kiss to the Cold" 
XXXL "The Love that caught Strange Light from 
Death's own Eyes" 
Epilogue ... 



PAGE 

2i7 
253 
269 
283 

297 

30i 
313 

328 
344 



GERARD; 

OR, 

THE WOELP. THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL. 

CHAPTER I. 

" I LOOK DOWN TO HIS FEET, BUT THAT's A FABLE." 

There were low brooding clouds and a feeling of thunder in the air 
as Gerard Hillersdon's cab rattled along the King's Road, past squalid 
slums and shabby gentilities, towards quiet rural Parson's Green. 
Only a few years ago Parson's Green had still some pretension to 
rusticity. Where now the speculating builders' streets and terraces 
stretch right and left in hollow squares and close battaUons, there 
were fine old Georgian and pre-Georgian mansions, and stately 
sweeps of lawn and shrubbery, and avenues of old-world growth, 
shutting out the hum and hubbub of the great city. 

To one of those respectable old mansions, that one which was 
second only to Peterborough House in the extent and dignity of 
its surroundings, Gerard Hillersdon was driving under the heavy 
sky of a July afternoon, the lowering close of a sunless and oppres- 
sive day. Never, not even in mid-winter, had the smoke-curtain 
hung lower over London than it hung to-day, and if the idea of fog 
seemed impossible in July there at least prevailed that mysterious 
condition of the atmosphere, commonly known as " blight," a thick 
yellow haze, unpierced by a single sun-ray. 

To Gerard Hillersdon, ordinarily the most sensitive of men, the 
atmosphere on this particular afternoon made no difference. He 
had got beyond that point in which atmosphere can raise a man's 
spirits or depress them. He had made up his mind upon the great 
question of life or death ; and this kind of day seemed as good to 



2 Gerard ; or, 

him as any other, since he meant it to be his last day upon earth. 
He had made up his mind that Hfe and he must part company ; 
that for him at least hfe was not worth hving : thus the grey and 
yellow of the atmosphere, and the threatening thunder-clouds to 
windward suited his temper far better than the blue sky and west 
wind which Lady Fridohne would have desired for her garden- 
party. 

Incongruous as the thing may seem the young man was going to 
spend his last earthly afternoon at Lady Fridoline's garden-party ; 
but for a man utterly without rehgious feeling or hope in the Here- 
after such a finish to existence seemed as good as any other. He 
could not devote his last hours in preparing for the world that was 
to come after death, as he had no behef in any such world. To him 
the deed that was to be done before midnight meant swift, sudden 
extinction, the end of all things for him, Gerard Hihersdon. The 
curtain which was to fall upon the tragedy of his life to-night would 
rise upon no afterpiece. The only question which he had taken 
into serious consideration was the mode and manner of his death. 
He had made up his mind about that. His revolver was lying in 
its case in his lodging-house bedroom, under the shadow of St. 
James's Church, ready loaded — a six-shooter. He had made no 
will, for he had nothing to leave behind him, except a heavy burden 
of debt. He had not yet made up his mind whether to write an 
explanatory letter to the father he had sorely tried, and a brief 
farewell to the mother who fondly loved him, and whom he loved 
almost as fondly; or whether it were not better to leave only 
silence. 

Not in sheer frivolity was he rattling along the road to Parson's 
Green. He had a stronger motive in going to Fridoline House than 
the desire to get rid of his last afternoon in the bustle and excite- 
ment of a herd of idle people. There would be some one there 
most likely whom he ardently desired to meet, were it but to touch 
her hand and say good night — good night for ever — as she stepped 
into her carriage, or were it but for one httle smile across the 
crowd. 

She had told him only the night before, sitting out a waltz in the 
tropical heat of a staircase in Grosvenor Square, that she meant to 
be at Lady Fridoline's omnium gatherum. 

" One meets such queer people," she said, with the regulation 
insolence, " I would not miss Lady Fridoline's Zoological Varieties 
for worlds." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 3 

A feather blown across her pathway might be enough to divert 
her fancy into another channeh He knew her well enough to know 
that there was no such thing as certainty where she was concerned ; 
but on the off chance he went to Parson's Green, and his eye ran 
eagerly along the double Ime of carriages, looking for Mrs. 
Champion's liveries. 

Yes, it was there, the barouche with its sober colouring, and the 
men in their dark brown coats, black velvet breeches, and silk 
stockings, and the fine upstanding Cleveland bays, strong enough 
to pull a Carter-Patterson van, yet with enough breeding for beauty. 
Wealth expressed itself here in that chastened form which educa- 
tion has imposed even upon the cit. The money that had bought 
that perfect equipage had all been made amidst the steam and din 
of the Stock Exchange, but the carriage and its appointments were 
every whit as perfect as those of her Grace of Uplandshire, which 
stood next in the rank. 

She was there — the woman he wanted to see and speak with on 
this his last day. 

" I am coming, my love, my sweet," he muttered to himself, as 
he wrote his name in the big book in the hall, the record by which 
Lady Fridohne was able to find out how many strangers and out- 
siders had been imposed upon her hospitality in the shape of friends' 
friends. 

The crowd was tremendous ; the house and grounds buzzed with 
voices, through which from the bosquet yonder cut the sharp twang- 
ing notes of a Tyrolese Volkslied, accompanied on the Streichzither; 
while from an inner drawing-room sounded the long-drawn chords 
of a violin attacking a sonata by De Beriot. On the left of the 
great square hall v;as the dining-room filled with a gormandising 
crowd ; and on the lawn outside there was a subsidiary buffet under 
a pollarded Spanish chestnut which spread its rugged venerable 
limbs over a wide circle of turf, and made a low-roofed tent of leaves 
that fluttered and shivered in the sultry atmosphere. 

Every class was represented at Lady Fridoline's garden-party ; or 
rather it might be said that everybody in London whom any one 
could care to see was to be found on her ladyship's lawn or was to 
be hunted for jn her ladyship's extensive shrubberies. Literature 
and the Stage were not more conspicuous than Church and Bar — 
Church represented by its most famous preachers, Bar by its most 
notorious advocates, to say nothing of a strong contingent of popular 
curates and clever stuff gowns. 



4 ■ Gerard ; or, 

Every noteworthy arrival from the great world of English-speak- 
ing people across the Atlantic was to be seen at Lady Fridoline's 
from the scholar and enthusiast who had written seven octavo 
volumes to prove that Don Juan was the joint work of Byron's valet, 
Fletcher, and the Countess Guiccioli, to the miniature soubrette, the 
idol of New York, who had come to be seen and to conquer upon 
the boards of a London theatre. Everybody was there, for the 
afternoon was late, and the throng was thickest just' at this 
hour. 

Gerard Hillersdon went about from group to group, everywhere 
received with cordiaHty and emjyre&sement, but lingering nowhere 
—not even when the tiny soubrette told him she was just dying 
for another ice, and she reckoned he'd take her to the tree over 
there to get one— always in quest of that one somebody who made 
it worth his while to run the gauntlet of everybody. One of his 
oldest friends seized upon him, a man ^'ith whom he had been at 
Oxford seven years before, with whom he had maintained the 
friendship begun in those days, and who was not to be put off 
with the passing hand-shake which served for other people. 

"I want a talk with you, Hillersdon. Why didn't you look me 
up last Tuesday? We were to have dined and done a theatre 
Don't apologise ,• I see you forgot all about it. By Jove, old fellow' 
you are looking dreadfully washed out. Wliat have you been 
doing with yourself? " 

"Nothing beyond the usual miU-round. A succession of late 
j)arties may have impaired the freshness of my complexion." 

" Come up the river with me. Let me see, to-morrow will be 
Saturday. We can go to Oxford by the afternoon express, spend a 
couple of nights at the ]\Iitre, look up the dons whom we knew as 
undergrads, and row down to Windsor by Tuesday night." 

"I should adore it ; but it's impossible. I have an engagement 
which will keep me in London. I shall see you again presently." 

He slipped out of the little group in which his friend figured. He 
had made tlio circuit of the lawn, looking right and left for that tall 
and graceful form which his eye would have recognised even afar 
off; and now he i^lunged into the shrubberied labyrinth which lay 
lietween the fine, broad lawn and the high walls which secluded 
Lady Fridoline's domain from the vulgar world. 

He passed a good many couples sauntering slowly in the leafy 
shade, and talking in those subdued accents wliich seem to mean 
very much, and generally mean vejy little. At last, in the dia- 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 5 

tance, he saw the form and face he was seeking — a tall, dark 
woman, with proudly poised head and splendid eyes, who walked 
with leism-ely step, and tossed her parasol to and fro with a move- 
ment eminently expressive of ennui. 

She was walking with a young man who was supposed to be a 
fast ascending star in the heaven of literature — a young man who 
was something of a journalist, and something of a. poet, who wrote 
short stories in the magazines, was believed to contribute to Punch, 
and was said to have written a three-volume novel. But however 
brilliantly this young gentleman may have been talking, Edith 
Champion had evidently had enough of him, for at sight of 
Hillersdon her face lighted up, and she held out her hand in eager 
welcome. 

They clasped hands, and he turned back and walked on her 
right in silence, while the journalist prattled on her left. Presently 
they met another trio of a mother and daughters, and the journalist 
was absorbed and swept along by this female brood, leaving Mrs. 
Champion and Hillersdon tete-a-tete. 

" I thought you were not coming," she said. 

" Did you doubt I should be here after you had told me I should 
sec you ? I want to see as much of you as possible to-day." 

" Why to-day more than all other days ? " 

" Because it is my last day in town." 

" What, you are leaving so soon ? Before Goodwood ? " 

" I don't care two straws for Goodwood." 

" Nor do I. But why bury one's self in the country or at some 
German bath too early in the year? Autumn is always long 
enough. One need not anticipate it. Is your doctor sending you 
away ? Are you going for your cure ? " 

" Yes, I am going for my cure." 

" Where ? " 

" Immerschlafenbad," he answered, inventing a name on the 
instant. 

" I never heard of the place. One of those new springs which 
doctors are always developing, no doubt. Every fashionable 
physician has his particular fad in the way of a watering-place. 
And you are really going to-morrow ? '' 

" To-morrow I shall be gone." 

"How shall I live without you?" she sighed, with the prettiest 
skin-deep sentiment, which wormded him almost more than her 
disdain could have done. " At least I must have all your society 



6 Gerard ; or, 

till YOU are gone. You must dine with me and share my opera-box. 
' Don Giovanni ' is an opera of which one can never have too much, 
and a new soprano is to be the Zerlina, a South American girl of 
whom great things are expected." 

"Is Mr. Champion at home? " 

" No, he is in Antwerp. There is something important going on 
there— something to do with raOways. You know how he rushes 
about. I shall have no one but my cousm, Mrs. Gresham, whom 
you know of old, the Suflblk vicar's lively wife. We shall be almost 
tete-a-tete. I shall expect you at eight o'clock." 

" I will be punctual. What a threatening day ! " he said, looking 
up at the gathering darkness which gave a wintry air to the summer 
foliage. " There must be a storm coming." 

" Evidently. I think I had better go home. Will you take me 
to my carriage ? " 

"Let me get you some tea before you go." 

They sti-oUed across the gi-ass to the leafy tent. A good many 
people had gone, scared by the thunder-clouds. Lady Fridoline 
had deserted her post in the portico, tired of saying good-bye, and 
was taking a hasty cup of tea amidst a little knot of intimates. She 
was lamenting the non-arrival of some one. 

" So shameful to disappoint me, after distinctly promising to be 
here," she said. 

"Who is the defaulter, dear Lady Fridoline?" asked Mrs. 
Champion. 

" Mr. Jermyn, the new thought-reader." 

" Jermyn I " echoed a middle-aged man, who was attending to 
Lady Fridoline's tea, " Jermjm, the mystery man. I should hardly 
call him by the old name of thought-reader. He marks a new 
departure in the region of the uncanny. He is not content with 
picking up pins, or finding unconsidered trifles. He unearths 
people's secrets, reads their hidden lives in a most uncomfortable 
way. I have seen a large party reduced to gloom by half an hour 
of Mr. Jermyn, I would as soon incite Mephistopheles to a garden- 
party. But people are so morbid, they will hazard anything for a 
new sensation." 

"It is something to touch only the fringe of other worlds," 
replied Lady Fridoline, " and whatever Mr. Jermjm's power may be, 
it lies beyond the plummet line of our thought or touch. He told 
me of circumstances in my own life that it was impossible for him 
to have discovered except by absolute divination." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 7 

" Then you believe ia his power of divination ? " asked Mrs. 
Champion, with languid interest. 
" I can't help believing." 

" Yes, because you have not found out the trick of the thing. 
There is always a trick in these things, which is inevitably found 
out sooner or later ; and then people wonder that they can have 
been so foolish as to believe," said Mrs. Champion. 

The curtain of leaves parted as she spoke, and a young man 
came through the opening — a young man whom Lady Fridoline 
welcomed eagerly. 

•• I was just telling my friends how disappointed I should be if 
you did not come," she said, and then, turning to Edith Champion, 
she introduced the new-comer as Mr. Jermyn. 

■' Lady Fridoline has been tr\-ing to make us feel creepy by her 
description of your occult powers, Mr. .Jermyn," said jMrs. Champion, 
" but you do not look a very alarming personage." 

" Lady Fridoline exaggerated my poor gifts in her infinite kind- 
ness," replied Jermyn, with a laugh that had a gnome-like sound to 
Mrs. Champion's ears. 

"Mr. Jermyn was a pleasant-looking young man, tall, slim, and 
fair, with a broad, strongly marked brow, which receded curiously 
above the temples, and with hair and moustache of that pale 
yellowish hue which seems most appropriate to the faun and satyi- 
races. Something in the way this short curling hair was cut about 
brow and ears, or in the shape of the ears themselves, suggested the 
satyr type ; otherwise there was nothing in the young man's 
physiognomy, bearing, or dress which made him different from other 
well-bred and well-dressed men of his age. His laugh had a fresh 
and joyous ring, which made it agreeable to hear, and he laughed 
often, looking at the commonest things in a mirthful spirit. 

Lady Fridoline insisted upon his taking some refreshment, and 
when he had disposed of a lemon-ice, she carried him off for a stroll 
round the lawn, eager to let people see her latest celebrity. There 
was a little buzz of talk, and an obvious excitement in the air as he 
passed group after group. He had shown himself rarely in societj', 
and his few performances had been greatly discussed and written 
about. Letters exalting him as a creature gifted with superhuman 
powers had alternated with letters denouncing him as an impostor 
in one of the most popular daily papers. The people who are 
always ready to believe in the impossible were loud in the assertion 
of his good faith, and would not hear of trickery or imposture. 



S Gerard ; or, 

There was an eager expectation of some manifestation of liis 
powers this afternoon, as he walked across the lawn with Lady 
Fridohne, and people who had been on the point of departui-e 
Hngered m the hope of being thrilled and frightened, as thev had 
heard of other people being thrilled and frightened, by this am'iable- 
lookmg youth with the fak complexion and yellow hair. The very 
incongruity of that fair and youthful aspect ^\dth the ghastly 
or the supernatural made Justin Jermyn so much the more 
interesting. 

He walked about the grounds with his hostess for some time, all 
her duties of leave-taking suspended, and she to all appearance 
absorbed m earnest conversation with the Fate-Revealer, every one 
watchful and expectant. Hillersdon and Mrs. Champion were sitting 
side by side upon a rustic bench, the lady no longer in a hurrv to 
depart. 

" You don't believe in any nonsense of this kind, I know," she 
said, in her low, listless voice, without looking at her companion, 

"I believe in nothing but disillusion, the falsehood inherent* in 
all thmgs." 

" You are in an unhappy mood to-day, 1 think," she said, with a 
touch of interest. 

"■ Atmospherical, perhaps,'' he answered, with a laugh. *• You 
can hardly expect anybody to feel very happy under "hat leaden 
sky." 

Lady Fridoline and her companion had separated. He was 
walking towards the house ; she was going rapidly from group to 
group, talking and explaining with animated gestures, 

'• There is going to be a performance," said Mrs. Champion, 
rising. " If there is any excitement to be had let us have our share 
of it." 

" You want the secrets of your hfe to be read ? " asked Gerard. ; 

" Yes, yes, yes, I want to see what modern magic can do," 

«' And you are not afraid ? That is because yours is only a 
surface life— an existence that begins and ends in wealth and 
luxury, fine clothes and fine horses. What have you to fear from 
sorcery? There are no more secrets in your life than in a doll's 
life." 

" You are very impertinent." 

" I am going away, and I can afford to quarrel with you. Would 
to God I could stir some kind of feeling in you— yes, even make 
you angry before I go." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 9 

"I am afraid you are an egotist," she said, smiling at him with 
lovely, inscrutable eyes. 

She went across the lawn to Lady Fridoline. 

" Are we going to have any magic ? " she asked. 

"You must not utter that word before Mr. Jermyn, unless you 
want to offend him. He has a horror of any idea of that kind. He 
calls his wonderful gift only insight, the power to look through the 
face into the mind behind it, and from the mind to the life which 
the mind has shaped and guided. He claims no occult power — 
only a keener vision than the common run of mankind. He is 
going to sit in the library for tlae next half-hour, and if anybody 
wants to test his powers they can go in — one at a time — and talk 
to him." 

Anybody seemed likely to be eA-erybody in this case, for there 
was a general and hurried movement towards the house. 

'' Come," said Edith Champion peremptorily, and she and 
Hillersdon followed the crowd, getting in advance of most people, 
with swift, vigorous steps. 

The library at Fridoline House was a large room that occupied 
nearly the whole of one ■n'ing. It was approached by a corridor, 
and ^Irs. Champion and her escort found this corridor choked with 
people, all eager to interview Mr. Jermyn. 

The approach to the oracle was strongly defended, however, by 
two gentlemen, who had been told off for that purpose, one being 
a Colonel of Engineers and the other a Professor of Natural Science. 

" We shall never get through this herd," said Gerard, looking 
with infinite contempt at the throng of smart people, all panting for 
a new sensation. " Let us try the other door." 

He was an intimate at Fridoline House, and knew his way to the 
small ante-room at the back of the Mbrary. If the door of that 
room were unguarded he and his companion might surprise the 
wizard, and steal a march upon all that expectant frivoHty in the 
corridor. The whole thing was beneath contempt, no doubt, and 
he, Gerard Hillersdon, was not even faintly interested in it, but it 
interested Edith Champion, and he was anxious to gratify her 
whim. 

He led her round by the hall and Lady Fridoline's boudoir, to the 
room behind the librarj-, opened the door ever so gently, and listened 
to the voices within. 

" It is wonderful, positively wonderful," said a voice in awe- 
stricken undertones. 



lo Ge7'ard ; or, 

"Are you satisfied, madam? Have I told you enougli? " asked 
Jermyn. 

•' More than enough. You have made me utterly miserable." 

Then came the flutter of a silken skirt, and the opening and 
closing of a door, and then Jermyn looked quickly towards that 
other door which Hillersdon was holding ajar. 

" Who's there ? " he asked. 

" A lady who would like to talk with you before you are exhausted 
by that clamorous herd in the corridor. May she come to you at 
once?" 

" It is Mrs. Champion," said JermjTi. "Yes, let her come in." 

" He could not possibly have seen me," whispered Edith Cham- 
pion, who had been standing behind the door. 

" He divined your presence. He is no more a magician than I 
am in that matter," said Hillersdon, as she passed him, and closed 
the door behind her. 

She came out after a five minutes' conference, much paler than 
when she entered. 

"Well, has he told the lovely doll her latest secret, the mystery 
of a new gown from Fehx or Eaunitz ? " asked Gerard. 

"I will see you now, if you have anything to say to me, Mr. 
Hillersdon," said Jermyn airily. 

'' I am with you in a moment," answered Gerard, lingering on 
the threshold, and holding Mrs. Champion's hand in both of his. 
"Edith, what has he said to you? you look absolutely frightened." 

"Yes, he has frightened me — frightened me by telling me my 
own thoughts. I did not know I was so full of sin. Let me go, 
Gerard. He has made me hate myself. He will do as much for 
you, perhaps. He will make you odious in your own eyes. Yes, go 
to him ; hear ah. that he can teU you." 

She broke from him, and hurried away, he looking after her 
anxiously. Then, with a troubled sigh, he went to hear what this 
new adept of a doubtful science might have to say to him. 

The hbrary was always in shadow^at this hour, and now, with 
that grey threatening sky outside the long narrow Queen Anne 
\\nndows, the room was wrapped in a wintry darkness, against 
which the smiling countenance of the diviner stood out in luminous 
relief. 

"Sit doAVTi, Mr. Hillersdon, I am" not going to hurry because of 
that mob outside," said JermjTi gaily, throwing himself back in 
the capacious arm-chair, and turning his beaming face towards 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 1 

Hillersdon.. " I am interested in the lady who has just left me, and 
I am still more interested in you." 

" I ought to feel honoured by that interest," said Hillersdon, " but 
I confess to a doubt of its reality. What can you know of a man 
whom you have seen for the first time within the last half-hour ? " 

" I am so sorry for you," said Jerm}Ti, ignoring the direct question, 
" so sorry. A young man of your natural gifts — clever, handsome, 
well-bred — to be so tired of life already, so utterly despondent of the 
future and its infinite chances, that you are going to throw up the 
sponge, and make an end of it all to-night. It is really too sad." 

HUlersdon stared at him in blank amazement. Justin Jermyu 
made the statement as if it were the most natural thing in the world 
that he should have fathomed another man's intention. 

"I cannot accept compassion from any one, least of all from a 
total stranger," said HUlersdon, after that moment of surprise. 
" Pray what is there in my history or my appearance that moves 
you to this wUd conjecture ? " 

" No matter by what indications I read your mind," answered 
Jermyn lightly. " You know I have read you right. You are one 
of my easiest cases ; everji;hing about you is obvious — stares me 
full in the face. The lady who has just left us needed a subtler 
power of interpretation. She does not wear her heart upon her 
sleeve ; and yet I think she will admit that I startled her. As for 
you, my dear fellow, I am particularly frank with you because 4 
■want to prevent your carrying out that foolish notion of yours. 
The worst thing that a man can do Avith his life is to throw it 
away." 

•' I admit no man's right to offer me advice." 

"You think that is out of my line. I am a fortune-teller, and 
nothing else. Well, I wUl tell you your fortune, Mr. Hillersdon, if 
you hke. You will not carry out your present intention — yet 
awhile, or in the mode and manner you have planned. Good 
afternoon." He dismissed his visitor with a careless nod as he rose 
to open the door communicating with the corridor, whence came a 
buzz of eager voices, mixed with light laughter. People were 
prepared to be startled, yet could but regard the whole business in 
a somewhat jocular spirit. It was only the select few who gave 
Justin Jermyn credit for occiilt power. 



t2 Gerard ; or. 



CHAPTER II. 

"oh, pitiful YOUXG man, STKUCK blind tt'ITH BEAUTi'." 

Edith Champion was one of the handsomest women in London, a 
woman whose progress was followed at all great parties and public 
gatherings by the hum of an admiring multitude, whispering her 
praises, or telling the uninformed that the dark-eyed woman Avith 
the tall, Juno-like form was the Mrs. Champion. Four years ago 
she had been one of a trio of lovely sisters, the daughters of an 
impecunious Yorkshire squire, a man who had wasted a fine fortune 
on the turf, and was ending his days in debt and difficulty at a 
moated grange in the West Riding. The three lovely sisters were 
such obviously marketable property that aunts and uncles were 
quick to compassionate their forlorn condition, and they were duly 
launched in London society. The two elder were young women of 
singular calmness and perspicuity, and got themselves well married, 
the first to a wealthy baronet, the second to a marquis, without 
giving trouble to anybody concerned in the transaction; but the 
3'oungest girl, Edith, showed herself wayward and wilful, and 
expressed an absurd desire to marry Gerard Hillersdon, the man 
she loved. This desire was frustrated, but not so promptly as it 
should have been, and the young lady contrived to make her attach- 
ment pubHc property before uncles or aunts could crush the 
flowers of sentiment under the hoof of worldly wisdom. But the 
sentiment was crushed somehow, the world knew not with how 
many tears, or wnth what girlish pleading for mercy, and the season 
after this foolish entanglement Edith Champion accepted the 
addresses of an elderly stockbroker and reputed millionaire, who 
made a handsomer settlement than the middle-aged marquis had 
made upon her elder sister. 

Mr. Champion was good-natured and unsuspicious, his mind 
being almost entirely absorbed in that exciting race for wealth 
which had been the business of his life from boyhood. He wanted 
a beautiful wife as the solace of his declining years, and the one 
tiling needed to complete the costly home which he had built for 
liimself on a heathy ridge among those romantic hills where Surrey 
overlooks Sussex. The wife was the final piece of furniture to be 
chosen for this splendid mansion, and he had chosen that crowning 



Xhe World, the Flesh, and the Devil, i 



J 



ornament in a deliberate and leisurely manner. He was the last 
man to plague himself by any subtle questionings as to the senti- 
ments of the lady so honoured, or to be harassed by doubts af her 
fidelity. He had no objection to seeing his wife surrounded bv 
youthfid admirers. Was she not meant to be admu'ed, as much as 
his pictures and statues ? He found no fault with the chosen band 
of " nice boys " who attended her afternoon at home, or crowded 
the back of her box when the curtain was dowm at opera-house or 
theatre ; and if Gerard Hlllersdon were more constant than all the 
others in his attendance, the fact never presented itself in any 
unpleasant light to Mr. Champion. Had he given himself the 
trouble to think about his wife's relations wnth her cavaliere servente 
lie would most assuredly have told himself that she was much too 
well placed to overstep the limits of prudence, and that no woman 
in her right senses would abandon a palace in Surrey and a model 
house in Hertford Street for the caravanseries that lodge the 
divmxee. He would have remembered also with satisfaction that 
his wife's settlement, liberal as it was, would be made null and void 
by a divorce. 

And thus for three years of his life — perhaps the best and 
brightest years in a man's life, from twenty-five to twenty-eight — 
Gerard Hillersdon had given up all his thoughts, aspirations, and 
dreams to the most hopeless of all love affairs, an attachment to an 
irreproachable matron, a woman who had accepted her lot as an 
unloving wife and who meant to do her duty, in her own cold and 
measured way, to an unloved husband; yet who clung to the 
memory of a girlish love and fostered the passion of her lover, 
caring, or at least seeming to care, notliing- for his peace, and never 
estimating the wrong she was doing him. 

To this passion everything in the young man's life had been 
sacrificed. He had begun his career on fire with ambition, believin"- 
in his capacity to succeed in more than one profession ; and in the 
first flush of his manhood he had done some really good work in 
imaginative literature, had written a novel which took the town, 
and had made his brief success as an original writer, romantic, light 
of touch, unconventional ; but he had been drifted into idleness by 
a woman who treated him as some queen or princess in the days 
of chivalry might have treated her page. She spoilt his career, 
]ust when a lasting success was within his reach, needing only 
earnestness and industry on his part. She had wasted the golden 
days of his youth, and had given him in exchange only smiles aud 



14 Gerard ; or, 

sweet words, and a place at her dinner-table in a house where he 
had lost all prestige from being seen too often, the one inevitable 
guest whose presence counted for nothing. He had been in all 
things her slave, offending the people she disliked, and wasting 
his attention and his substance on her favourites, faithful to her 
caprice of the hour, were it never so foolish. 

And now after three years of this fond slavery the end had come. 
He was ruined, and was worse than ruined. He had been living 
from hand to mouth, writing for magazmes and newspapers, earning 
a good deal of money in a casual way, but never enough to keep 
him out of debt ; and now he saw bankruptcy staring him in the 
face, and with bankruptcy dishonour, for he had gambling debts 
which, as the son of a country parson, he ought never to have 
incurred, and which it would be disgrace not to pay. 

Had this dread of disgrace been his only trouble, he might have 
treated it as other men have treated such dark episodes. He 
might have told himself that England is not the world, and that 
there is always room for youth and daring under the tropic stars^ 
and that the name with which a man has been labelled at starting 
in life is not so interwoven with his being that he need mind 
changing it for another, and giving himself a fresh start. He might 
have reasoned thus had he still felt the dehght in life which makes 
the adventurer live down shame and set his face to untrodden worlds 
across the sea. But he had no such delight. The zest of life had 
gone out of him. Love itself had lost all fervour. He hardly 
knew whether he cared any more for the woman to whom he had 
sacrificed his youth, whether the flame of love had not expired 
altogether amidst the vacuity of two conventional existences. The 
only thing whicih he knew for certain was that he loved no other 
woman, and that he took no interest in life adequate to the 
struggle it would cost him to Hve through the crisis that was 
coming. 

And thus, with all serious consideration, he had decided upon 
a sudden exit from a scene which no longer interested him. Yet 
with a curious inconsistency he wanted to spend his last hours in 
Edith Champion's society, and never had he seemed gayer or 
happier than he seemed that evening at the triangular dinner in 
Hertford Street. 

They were dining in a little octagon room at the back of the 
house, a room upholstered like a tent, and furnished in so Oriental 
a fashion that it seemed a solecism to be sitting upon chairs, and 



The World, the Flesh, and the DeviL 15 

not to be eating pillau or kibobs with one's fingers. The clerical 
cousin was a very agreeable personage — plump and rosy, strongly 
addicted to good living, and looking upon the beautiful Mrs. 
Champion as a being whose normal state was to be adored by 
well-bred young men, and to dispense hospitality to poor 
relations. 

Not a word was said about Justin Jermyn throughout the dinner, 
but while Gerard was helping Mrs. Champion to put on her cloak, 
she asked suddenly — 

" How did you get on with the Fate-reader? " 
" Very badly. He struck me as an insolent farceur. I wonder 
society can encourage such a person." 

*' Yes, he is decidedly insolent. I was rather scared by the things 
he said to me, but a few minutes' thought showed me that his talk 
was mere guess work. I shall never ask him to any party of 
mine." 

"You must have rushed away in a great hurry. I was only five 
minutes closeted with the oracle, but when I went to the hall you 
and your carriage had vanished." 

" I had an irresistible desire to get out of the house. I felt as if 
I were escaping from Tophet; and then I had to call for Mrs. 
Gresham " — the cousin — " at the Knightsbridge Eiding School, 
where the poor thing had been slaving at Lady Penniddock's 
refreshment stall." 

" It was abject slavery," protested Mrs. Gresham. " I'm afraid 
I shall detest tea and coffee all the days of my life, and I was so 
fond of them " — with profound regret. " The very look of a bath 
bun ■will make me ill." 

" Depediom,'" said Mrs. Champion. " We shall hear very little 
of the new Zerlina if we go on dawdling here." 

And so in a feverish hurry she led the way to her carriage, where 
tber$ was just room enough for Gerard on the front seat. 



1 6 Gerard ; or, 



CHAPTER III. 

" THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY." 

The opera house was not brilliantly filled. There were a great 
many important functions going on that evening, events thickening 
as the season sloped towards its close, and it may be that the new 
ZerHna had not been sufficiently puffed, or that those enthusiasts 
who can never have too much Mozart are only the minority among 
opera-goers. There were a good many blank spaces in the stalls, 
and a good many untenanted boxes, nor was the display of diamonds 
and beauty as dazzling as it might have been. 

In an audience at half power Mrs. Champion's commanding 
loveliness and Mrs. Champion's tiara of diamond stars shone con- 
spicuous. She was dressed with that careless air which was her 
speciality, in some filmy fabric of daffodil colour, which was 
arranged in loose folds across her bust and shoulders, caught here 
and there, as if at random, with a diamond star. A great cluster 
of yellow orchids was fastened on one shoulder, and there were 
yellow orchids pinned on her black lace fan, while long black 
gloves gave a touch of eccentricity to her toilette. Her one object 
in dressing herself was to be different from other women. She 
never wore the fashionable colour or the fashionable fabric, but 
gloried in opposition, and took infinite pains to find something in 
Paris or Vienna which nobody was wearing in London. 

The aw^e-inspiring music which closes the second act, and seems 
to presage the horror of the scenes that are coming, was hurrying 
to its brilliant finish, when Gerard, looking idly down upon the 
stalls, started at sight of the man who had mystified him more than 
any other human being had ever done. There, lounging in hia 
place between two unoccupied seats, he saw Justin Jermyn, 
apparently enjoying the music with that keen delight which only 
the real music-lover can feel. His head was thrown back, his thin 
pale lips were slightly parted, and his large blue eyes beamed with 
rapture. Yes, a man who passionately loved music, or else a 
consummate actor. 

The very presence of the man recalled Gerard Hillersdon to the 
business which was to be done after the green curtain had fallen, 
and his fair companions had been handed into their carriage. Ten 



The World, tJic Flesh, and the Devil. 1 7 

minutes in a hansom, and he would be in his lodgings, and there 
would be no excuse for delay. His time would have come before 
the clock of St. James's Church struck midnight. He had looked at 
his pistol-case involuntarily while he was dressing for the eveninp;. 
He knew wdiere it stood ready to his hand ; and close beside the 
pistol-case was a business-like letter from his landlord requesting 
the settlement of a long account for rent and maintenance — only 
such breakfasts and casual meals as a young man of fashion takes at 
his lodgings — which had mounted to formidable figures. And an 
oimce of lead Avas to be the sole settlement. For the first time in 
his life Mr. Hillersdon felt sorry for those eminentlj' respectable 
people, his landlord and landlady. He began to consider whether 
he ought not at least to shoot himself out of doors, rather than to 
inflict upon an old-established lodging-house the stigma of a suicide ; 
but the inconvenience of self-destruction &ul) jove was too apparent 
to him, and he felt that he must be selfish in this final act of a 
selfish life. 

Yes, there sat Justin Jermyn, complacent, full of enjojTuent; the 
man who had told him what he was going to do. How the modern 
sorcerer w^ould pride himself upon that fore-knowledge to-morrow 
•when the evenmg papers told of the deed that had been done. 
There would doubtless be a paragi-apli in the papers — three lines at 
most — and perhaps a line on the contents bill: Distressixo 
Suicide of a Gextlemax. Suicides are always described as 
distressing when the self-slaughterer is of gentle blood. 

He felt angry with Jermyn for having contrived to haunt these 
closing hours of his life. He sat watching the sorcerer all througli 
the last act of the opera, noting his elfin enjoyment of all that was 
diabohcal in the music and the hbretto. How he gi-inned at the 
discomfiture of Don Giovanni ! how he rocked himself with 
laughter at the abject terror of Leperello ! No one approached him 
as an acquaintance. He sat in complete isolation, but in supreme 
enjoyment, apparently the happiest man in that great theatre, the 
youngest and the freshest in the capacity to enjoy. 

" And that laughing fool read my purpose as if my. brain had 
been an open book," mused Hillersdon savagely. 

His anger was not lessened when he glanced round while he was 
conducting Mrs. Champion to her carriage, and saw the Fate- 
reader's slim, supple figure behind him, and the Fate-reader's 
gnome-like countenance smiling at him under an opera hat. 

''I am so sorry you are leaving London so soon," said Edith 

o 



1 8 Gerard; or, 

Champion, as he lingered at the carriage-door for the one half- 
minute allowed by the Jack ui office at his elbow. 

She gave him her hand, and even pressed the hand which held 
hers, with more sentiment than she was wont to show. 

"Drive on, coachman," shouted the Commissionaire. "Now 
then, nest carriage." 

No time for sentimental partings there ! 

Hillersdon walked away from the theatre, meaning to pick up 
the first hansom that offered itself. He had not gone three steps 
along the Bow Street pavement when Jermyn was close beside him. 

" Are you gomg home, Mr. Hillersdon ? " he asked, in a friendly 
tone. " Delightful opera, ' Don Giovanni,' ain't it ? The best out 
and away. ' Faust ' is my next favomite ; but even Gounod can't 
touch Mozait." 

"I dare say not; but I am no connoisseur. Good night, Mr. 
Jermyn. I am going home immediately." 

" Don't. Come and have some supper with me. I only half told 
your fortime this afternoon, you were so infernally impatient. I 
have a good deal more to tell you. Come and have some supper 
in my chambers." 

" Some other night, perhaps, Mr. Jermyn. I am gomg straight 

home." 

" And you mean there shall be no other nights in your life ? " 
said Jermyn, in a low, silky voice that made Hillersdon savage, for 
it jarred upon his irritated nerves more than the harshest accents 
could have done. 

" Good night," he said curtly, turning on his heel. 

Jermyn was not to be repulsed. 

" Come home with me," he said ; " I won't leave you while you 
have the suicide's line on your fc^ehead. Come to supper with me, 
Hillersdon. I have a brand of champagne that will smooth out that 
ugly wrinkle, if you'll only give the stuff a fair trial." 

" I don't know where you live, and I don't care a jot for your 
wines or anybody else's. I am leaving town to-morrow morning, 
and I want my last hours in London for my own purposes." 

Jermyn put his arm through Hillersdon's, wheeled him round in 
the direction of Long-acre, and quietly led him away. That was 
his answer to Hillersdon's testy speech, and the young man sub- 
mitted, feeling a vis inertice, a languid indifference which made him 
consentient to a stranger's will, having lost all will-power of his 
own. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 19 

He was angry with Jermyn, yet even more angry with himself, 
and in that perturbation of mind, tempered curiously with supine- 
ness, he took but little note of which way they went. He 
remembered going by Lincoln's Inn Fields and the Turnstile. He 
remembered crossing Holborn, but knew not afterwards whether the 
shabby, squalid looking Inn, beneath whose gloomy gate-house 
Jermyn led him, did, or did not, open directly out of the great 
thoroughfare. 

He remembered always that it was a most dismal assemblage of 
tall, shabby houses, forming a quadrangle, in whose stony centre 
there was a dilapidated basin, which might once have been a 
fountain. The summer moon, riding high and fast among wind- 
tossed clouds, shone full into the stony yard, and lit up the shabby 
fronts of the houses, but not one lamp-lit window cheered with the 
suggestion of life and occupation. 

"Do you mean to say you live in this ghastly hole?" he 
exclaimed, speaking for the first time since they left Bow Street ; 
" it looks as if it were tenanted by a company of ghosts." 

" A good many of the houses are empty, and I dare say the 
ghosts of dead usurers and dishonest lawyers and broken-hearted 
clients do have a high time in the old rooms now and again," 
answered Jermyn, with his iiTepressible laugh; "but I have 
never seen any company but rats, mice, and such small deer, as 
Bacon says. Of course, he was Bacon. We're all agreed upon 
that." 

Hillersdon ignored this frivolity, and stood dumbly, while Jermyn 
put his key into a door, opened it, and led the way into a passage 
that was pitch dark. Not a pleasant situation to be alone in a 
dark passage at midnight in a sparely inhabited block of buildings 
quite cut off from the rest of the world, in company with a man 
whose repute was decidedly diabolical. 

Jermyn struck' a match and lighted a smaU hand-lamp, which 
improved the situation just a little. 

"My den is on the second floor," he said, "and I've made the 
place pretty comfortable inside, though it looks rather uncanny 
outside." 

He led the way up an old oak staircase, narrow, shabby, and 
unadorned, but oak-panelled, and therefore precious in the eyes of 
those who cHng fondly to the past and to that old London which ia 
so swiftly vanishing off the face of the earth. 

The little lamp gave but just light enough to make the darkness 



2o Gerard ; or, 

of the staircase visible, till they came to a landing where the moon 
looked in through the mm-ky panes of a tall window, and anon to 
a higher landing, where a vivid streak of lamplight under a door 
gave the first token of habitation. Jermyn opened this door, and 
his guest stood half-blinded by the brilliant light, and not a little 
astonished by the elegant luxury of those two rooms, opening into 
each other with a wide archway, which Mr. Jermyn had denomi- 
nated his " den." 

Hillersdon had been in many bachelor-rooms within the precincts 
of The Albany, in Piccadilly, St. James's, and Mayfair, but he had 
seen nothing more studiously luxurious than the Fate-reader's den. 
Heavy velvet curtains, of darkish green, draped the shuttered 
windows. The ingle-nook was quamt, artistic, comfortable; the 
glistening tiles were decorated with storks and sea-birds, which 
might have been painted by Stacey Marks himself. The furniture 
was all that is most rare and genuine in the relics of the Chippendale 
era. The carpet was a marvel of Oriental undertones, and Oriental 
richness of fabric. The few pieces of pottery which made spots of 
vivid colour here and there amidst the prevailing sombreness of hue, 
were choicest specimens of Indian and Italian ware. The pictures 
were few. A Judas, by Titian; a wood nymph, naked and 
unashamed, against a background of dark foliage, by Guido ; and 
three curious bits of the early German school, made up the show of 
art, save for a bust of the Fate-reader in black marble, a curiously 
faithful likeness, in which the faun-like character of the head, and 
the elfin smile, were but slightly accentuated. This bust stood 
upon a pedestal of dark red porphyry, and seemed to command the 
room. 

The inner room was furnished as a library. There the lampg 
were shaded and the light subdued. Here, under the centre lamp 
that hung low over the small round table appeared all the arrange- 
ments for a dainty little supper. Two covered dishes on a chafing 
dish ; a trufHed pullet and a miniature York ham, a lobster salad, 
strawberries, peaches, champagne in a brazen ice-pail, ornamented 
with Bacchanalian figures in repouss^ woi'k. 

" My servant has gone to bed," said Jermyn, "but he has left 
everything ready, and we can wait upon each other. Cutlets, 
salmi aux olives," he said, lifting the covers ; " which will you start 
with?" 

" Neither, thanks. I told you 1 had no appetite." 

" Discouraging to a man who is as hungry as a hunter," retorted 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 21 

Jcrmyu, helping himself. " Try that Madeira, it may give you an 
appetite." 

Hillersdon seated himself opposite his host and took a glass of 
wine. His curiosity was stimulated by the Fate-reader's surround- 
ings; and, after all, the thing which he had to do might remain 
undone for a few hours. He could not help being interested in 
this young man, who, either by instinct or by a subtle guess, had 
fathomed his purpose. The luxury of these rooms piqued him, so 
striking a contrast with the shabbiness of his own West End lodging, 
albeit that lodging was far from cheap. He was supposed to pay 
for " situation." Of luxury he had nothing, of comfort very little. 
How did Jermyn contrive to be so well off, he wondered ? Did he 
live by fate-reading, or had he means of his own ? 

Jermyn was eating his supper all this time with a fine appetite 
and an epicurean gusto. After a couple of glasses of Madeira, his 
guest helped himself to lobster salad, and when Jermyn opened the 
champagne the two men were hobnobbing comfortably, and, that 
wine being choice of its Idnd and admirably iced, HiUersdon drank 
the best part of a bottle, and found himself enjoying his supper more 
than he had enjoyed anything in the way of meat and drink for a 
long time. 

The conversation during supper was of the lightest, Jermyn 
letting oft' his criticisms, mostly unfavourable, upon people known 
to them both, and laughing tremendously at his own wit. He was 
careful not to mention Mrs. Champion, however, and Hillersdon had 
110 objection to spatter mud upon the ruck of his acquaintance. 
Supper over, and a box of cigars open between them, with a silver 
epirit-lamp, shaped like a serpent offering its flaming jaws for their 
use, the men grew more serious. It was past one o'clock. They 
had been a long time over their supper, and they seemed no longer 
strangers — intimates, rather, not united by any particular esteem for 
each other, but one in their contempt for other people. 

'' The champagne has wiped out that ugly wrinkle alreadj'," said 
Jermyn, with his friendly air ; " and now tell me what could induce 
you to contemplate such a thing." 

" What thing? " asked Hillersdon, waxing moody. 

Jermyn's reply was pantomimic. He passed his hand across his 
throat, significant of a razor ; he turned his hand towards his open 
mouth, suggestive of a pistol ; he tossed off an imaginary poison 
draught. 

"You insist upon suggesting '' began Hillersdon, angrily. 



22 Gerard ; or, 

" I tell you I saw it in your face. The man who contemplates 
suicide has a look which no man who reads the human countenance 
can mistake. There is a fixed horror in the eyes, as of one who 
stares into the unknown, and knows that he is nearing the mystery 
of life and death. There are perplexed lines about the brow, ' shall 
I, or shall I not ? ' and there is a nervous hurry, as of one who wants 
to get a disagreeable business over as soon as may be. I have never 
been mistaken yet in that look. AVhy, my dear fellow, why? 
Surely Hfe at eight and twenty is too precious a thing to be frittered 
away for a trifle." 

" ' You take my life when you do take the means by which I live,' " 
quoted Hillersdon. 

" Bacon again ! Tliat fellow has something to say about every- 
thing. You imply that you are impecunious, and would rather be 
dead than penniless." 

"Take it so, if you please." 

" Good. Now, how can you tell that fortune is not waiting for 
you at some turn in the road you know not ; that road of the future 
which no man knows till he treads it? So long as a man is alive 
he has always a chance of becoming a millionaire. So long as a 
woman is unmarried there is always the possibility of her marrying 
a duke." 

" The chance of fortune in my case is so remote that it is not 
worth considering. I am the son of a country parson. I have no 
relative living likely to leave me the smallest legacy. Unless I 
could make a fortune by literature, I have no chance of making one 
by any exertion of my own, and my second book was so dire a 
failure that I have it not in me to write a third." 

" Fortunes drop from the clouds sometimes. Have you never 
done any rich man a service which might prompt him — when dis- 
tributing superfluous thousands — to leave a few to you ? " 

" Never, within my recollection." 

" Come, now, looking back at your life, is there no act in it of 
which you might fairly be proud, no touch of the heroic, no deed 
worthy a paragraph in the papers ? " 

" None. I once saved an old man's life ; but I doubt if the life 
were worth saving, since the old wretch did not trouble himself to 
thank me for having risked my own life in his service." 

"You saved an old man's life, at hazard of your own! Come, 
that sounds heroic," cried . Jermyn, flinging his fair head back against 
the blackish green of the velvet cliair cover, and laughing with all 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 23 

his mi'^'ht. The black bust showed a little to the left, above the 
level of his head, and it seemed to Hillersdon that the black face 
•was laughing as broadly as the white one. 

"Tell me the whole story— pray now— it sounds absolutely 
heroic," urged Jermyn. 

" There is very little to tell," replied Hillersdon, coolly. " Nothing 
either to laugh at or to be thrilled by. I did only what any other 
active young man would have done in my position, seeing a feeble 
old man in peril of immediate death. It was at Nice. You know 
what a wilderness of iron the railway station there is, and how one 
has to hunt about for one's train. It was at carnival time, dusk, 
and a great many people were going back to Cannes, I myself among 
them. The old man had arrived from another train going eastwards, 
and was making for the platform, when a great high engine bore 
steadily down upon him, by no means at express speed, but fast 
enough to paralyse him, so tliat, instead of getting out of the way, 
he stood staring, hesitating, helpless. An instant more, and that 
vast mass of iron would have cut him do\vn and dashed the hfe out 
of him. I had but time to drag him out of the track before the 
engine passed me, brushing my shoulder as it went by. I took him 
to the platform. Hardly any one had seen our adventure. I had 
a friend with me at the station, with whom I had bnched at the 
Cosmopolitan, and who had insisted on seeing me ofl. 1 rold him 
briefly what had happened, left the old man in his care, and rushed 
back to look for my ovi-n train, which I caught by the skin of my 
teeth." 

" And the old churl never thanked you? " 

"Not by one civil word. His only remark was an inquiry about 
his umbrella, which had fallen out of his hand when I plucked him 
from the jaws of death. I beheve he felt himself aggi-ieved because 
I had not rescued his umbrella as well as himself." 

"Was he English, do you think? " 

" Distinctly British. A Frenchman or Itahan would at least have 
been loquacious, if not gratehil." 

"The shock may have made him speechless." 

" He found speech to inquire after his umbrella." 

"True, that looked black! " said Jermjm, laughing; "I'm afraid 
he must have been a thankless old dog. And you took no trouble 
to find out who he was, I suppose — what manner of man you had 
snatched from sudden death ? " 

" I had not the slightest interest in his identity." 



24 Gerard ; or, 

'• So ! Well, uo\v, let us talk still further of yourself and 3'our 
prospects. You know that people call me the Fate-reader. Now, 
I have a fancy that your fortunes are on the threshold of a great 
change — and that, apart from the foUy of anticipating Death, the 
inevitable enemy, in }'our case it may be very much worth while to 
hve." 

"You are vague and general. What form of good fortune do 
you predict for me ? " 

" I pretend to no gift of prophecy. I only profess the power of 
insight. I can read what men are — not what is going to happen to 
them ; but as in many cases character is fate, I have been able to 
hazard some shrewd guesses about the future." 

" And in my case, what are your guesses ? " 

'• I would rather not tell you." 

" The outlook is not satisfactory', then ? " 

"Not altogether. The character of a man who at eight and 
twenty can contemplate suicide as the shortest way out of his 
embarrassments is not a character that promises well. I am frank 
you see." 

" Vastly frank." 

"Don't be angry," laughed Jermyn. "I pretend to be no hero 
myself, and if I were very hard up, or very much bored, I dare say 
I too might think of a bullet or a dose of prussic acid. Only that 
kind of idea argues a character at once weak and selfish. The man 
wlio takes his own life runs away from the universal battle, and 
shov,-s a selfish indiflerence to those he leaves behind, in whoso 
minds the memory of his deatli will be a lasting pain." 

"My poor mother," sighed Ilillersdon, recognising the truth of 
tliis assertion. 

" You would have killed yourself because you were ennuied and 
unhappy; because you have wasted opportunities, and given the 
])est years of your life to a hopeless passion. Yom* reasons were 
not strong enough ; and even if I were not here to demonstrate your 
folly, I think your hand must have faltered at the last moment, and 
you would have asked yourself — Is the outlook so very black after 
all ? Does not one gleam of light pierce tlie darkness ? " 

" The outlook is as black as pitcli," answered Ilillersdon, expand- 
ing under the influence of the wine he had been drinking so freely, 
ready now to talk to this acquaintance of a day as if he were his 
liosom friend and companion of years; "there is not a gleam of 
light, not one! I have wasted my chances; I have frittered a\vay 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 25 

whatever talent or capacitj- 1 may liave possessed when I left the 
University. I am a dependent upon a father who can ill afford to 
support a son in idleness, and to whom I ought to be a help rather 
than a burden. I have been — and must be as long as I live — the 
glave of a woman who exacts servitude and gives nothing— whose 
heart and mind after years of closest association are still mysteries 
to me; who will not own that she loves me, yet will not let 
me go." 

*' Mrs. Champion is a remarkably clever woman," said Jermyn, 
coolly ; ' ■ but there are depths which you have never fathomed 
under that calm and virtuous surface. Leave her for another 
divinity, and you will see of what she is capable. If that hopeless 
attachment is your only trouble, I snap my fingers at the necessity 
of suicide. A day, an hour may bring you face to face with a 
woman whose influence wUl make you forget Edith Champion." 

" You have no right to make free with Mrs. Champion's name. 
How do you know that she has any influence over my life ? " 

" I know what all the world knows — your world of Ma}-fair and 
Belgravia, Hyde Park and South Kensington — and I know what I 
read in the lady's face. A dangerous woman for you, ]Mr. Hillers- 
don ; witness these wasted years of which you complain. But 
there are women as fair, to love whom would be a less abject 
servitude. Do you remember the vision that Mephistopheles showed 
Faust in the witch's kitchen ? " 

'■ Gretchen at her spinning-wheel ! " 

"Gretchen at her wheel belongs to the opera, I foncy. The 
vision Faust saw in the witch's looking-glass was the vision of 
abstract beauty. You may remember that when he sees Gretchen 
in the street there is no recognition of that supernal face he had 
just seen in the glass. He was only caught by a pretty girl tripping 
modestly home from church. The vision may have been Aphrodite 
or Helen, for aught we know. A clever trick, no doubt, that vision 
in the glass. Look yonder, Hillersdon, look at that face there, 
kno\vn to you in the past — the face of a girl steeped in poverty, 
beautiful as a dream, yet no better off in this world for her loveli- 
ness. Look at that fragile form bending over a se^-ing-machuae, 
our modem substitute for the spinning-wheel. Look at me, Hillers- 
don," repeated Jermvn, fixing him with those cold, calm, blue 
eyes, from which there radiated a sudden influence that steeped 
Gerard Hillersdon's senses in a dreamy light, as of another world 
and atmosphere ; '■ and now look yonder." 



26 Gerard ; or, 

He waved Ms hand carelessly towards the inner room, where in 
the subdued light Hillersdon saw the figure of a girl, shadowy, dim, 
and vague at first, and then developing gradually from pale grey 
shadow into luminous distinctness. The face was turned to him, 
but the eyes saw him not ; they gazed sadly out into space, full of 
hopeless melancholy, while the hands moved monotonously back- 
wards and forwards across the table of a sewing-machine. A girl 
in a grey cotton frock, sitting at work at a sewing-machine. That 
was the vision Gerard HUlersdon saw against the dark background 
of Mr. Jermyn's library ; but the girl's pinched and palHd face was 
as beautiful in form as the face of EaffaeUe's loveliest Madonna, 
and in its profound melancholy there was a sweetness that melted 
his heart. Something, too, in that fair Gretchen-like countenance 
struck him as strangely familiar. He had seen the face before, not 
in a picture or in a statue, but in commonplace everyday life. 
When or where he knew not. 

Jermjm threw his half-smoked cigar up into the air, and burst 
into his elfin laugh. The vision faded on the instant, as if he had 
laughed it away. 

" There is your modern Gretchen," he said, " a poor little semp- 
stress, slaving from dawn to dark for daily bread, as beautiful as 
a Greek goddess, and virtuous enough to prefer poverty to degra- 
dation. There is your true tj^e of a nineteenth-century Gretchen. 
How would you like to be Faust? " 

"I should like to possess Faust's power; not to betray Gretchen, 
but to secure my own happmess." 

"And what is your idea of happiness? " asked Jermyn, lighting 
a fresh cigar. 

" Wealth," answered Hillersdon, quickly. " For a man who has 
lived under the goad of poverty, who has felt day by day, and hour 
by hour, the torment of being poorer than his feUow-men, there 
can be but one idea of bliss. IMoney, and plenty of it. From my 
school days upwards I have lived among men better off than my- 
self. At the University I got into trouble because I exceeded my 
allowance. My father could just afford to give me two hundred a 
year, I spent from three to four hundred ; but the excess, though 
it caused no end of trouble at home, left me still a pauper among 
men who spent a thousand. I had been sent to an expensive 
college, and told to economise ; to enjoy all the privileges of con- 
tact with men of rank and position, to be among them but not of 
them. I happened to be popular, and so could not altogether 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 27 

sedude myself from my fellow-men. I was pinched and harassed 
at every tm-n, and yet plunged in debt, and a malefactor to my 
family. I came to London, studied for the Bar, ate my dinners, 
wasted my father's substance on fees, and never got a brief. I 
wrote a book which won instantaneous success, and for the moment 
I was rich. I thought I had opened a gold mine, bought my 
mother a pair of diamond earrings which she did not want, and 
sent my father a iine set of Jeremy Taylor, which he had been 
longing for ever since I could remember. I fell in love with a 
beautiful girl, who reciprocated my aifection, but was not allowed 
to marry a man whose only resources were in his inkstand. She 
was not inconsolable, and our engagement was no sooner broken 
than she married a man old enough to be her gi-andfather, and rich 
enough to make her a personage in the smart world. My next 
book, •written while I was writhing under the sting of this dis- 
appointment, was a dead failm-e. I had no heart to begin another 
book. I have lived since, as a good many young men contrive to 
live in this great city, from hand to mouth, and the emptiness and 
hopelessness of my life have been known to me for a long time. 
Do you wonder that I began to think actual nothingness better 
than this middle state between life and death — this perpetual 
weariness of an inane and purposeless existence ! " 

" And you think that wealth would open up a new future, and 
that life would be no longer aimless?" 

" Wealth means power," answered Hillersdon. " "With wealth 
and youth no man should be unhappy, unless racked with physical 
pain. A rich man is master of the universe." 

"Yes, but while he enjoys the power wealth gives, his life is 
ebbmg. Every day of enjoyment, every ardent hope satisfied, 
every extravagant wish realised, is a nail in his cofiin. The men 
■who Kve longest are men of moderate means — not worried by 
poverty nor elated by wealth — men in whose obscure and retired 
lives society takes very httle interest — scholars, thinkers, inventors, 
some of them perhaps, whom the world hears of only after they are 
dead — men who think, and dream, and reason, but experience 
nothing of Hfe's feverish movement or man's fiercer passions. Do 
you remember Balzac's story of the Peau de Chagrin? " 

" Not very clearly. It was one of the first French novels I read ; 
a kind of fairj' tale, I think." 

" It is more an allegory than a fairy tale. A young man. tired 
of life, like you, is on the brink of suicide — has made up his mind 



28 Gerard; or, 

to die, as you made up your miud to-day — wlien, to beguile the 
time betwixt afternoon and night, he goes into a bric-a-brac shop 
and turns over the wonders of worlds old and new. Here, amidst 
treasures of art and relics of extinct civilisations, he finds the 
queerest cmio of all in the person of the bric-a-brac dealer, a man 
who boasts of his century and more of life, the quiet passionless 
life of the thinker. This man shows him the Peau de Chagrin, the 
skin of a wild ass, hanging against the wall. With that talisman 
he offers to make the intending suicide richer, more powerful, and 
more renowned than the king of the French. ' Read,' he cries, and 
the young man reads a Sanscrit inscription whose letters are so 
interwoven in the metallic lustre of the skin that no knife can 
eradicate the faintest line. The Sanscrit translated ru;is thus : — 

'If you possess me j'cu possess all, 

But your life will be mine. Wish, 

And your wishes will be fulfilled, 

I5ut rule your wishes hy 

Your life. At every wish 

I shall dwindle like 

Your days. Would'st 

Have me. 

Take.' 

" This inscription is the allegory of life. The old man told the 
youth how he had offered the talisman to many, but how, though 
one and all laughed at its possible influence over their future 
destinies, all had refused to traffic with that unknown power. And 
for the owner of the talisman, why had he never tested its value ? 
The old man answered that question by expounding his theory of 
life." 

" And what was his theory ? " 

" ' The mystery of human life lies in a nutshell,' said the cen- 
tenarian. ' The life of action and the life of passion drain the 
sources of existence. To will, to do, to desire ardently, is to die. 
With every quickening of the pulse above normal health, with 
every tumult of the heart, with every fever of the brain, fired by 
ardent hopes and conflicting wishes, a shred is torn off the fabric 
of a man's life. The men who live to age like mine are the men 
whose passions and desires, ambitions and greed of power have 
been rigiJly suppressed, the men of calm and contemplative tem- 
perament, in whom mind rises superior to heart and senses, who 
are content to reason, to know, to see, and understand the world 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 29 

in which they live.' And that old man was right. There is a 
hidden meaning in that sentence of Holy Writ — The race is not to 
the swift. If you would live long take hfe largo, not presto." 

'• Who cares for length of years ? " exclaimed Hillersdon. " What 
a man wants is to live, not to crawl for a century on the face of 
this planet, afraid to lift his head from the earth lest a thimderbolt 
should strike him. I wish I could stroll into a bric-a-brac shop and 
find the peau de chagrin. I would be content to see the talisman 
dwindle daily, if every diminution marked an hour of happiness, a 
wish realised." 

" Well, I suppose that is the only philosophy of life congenial 
to a young mind," said Jermyn lightly. " The centenarian whi> 
never really lived boasts of length of days, and cheats himself with 
the idea that he has had the best of the bargain ; but to live for 
ten joyous, reckless years must be better than to vegetate for a 
century." 

" Infinitely better," said Hillersdon, rising in a fever of excite- 
ment, and beginning to walk about the room, looking at this and 
that, the bronze idols, the enamelled vases and old ivory carvings 
in the niches and recesses of a Bombay blackwood cabinet. 

" You have the peau de chagrin hidden somewhere in your rooms, 
perhaps," he suggested laughingly, " or, at any rate, some taUsman 
which enables you to make light of life — to see a jest where other 
men see a problem only to be solved by death." 

" No, I have no talisman. I have nothing but will — will strong 
enough to conquer passion — and insight by which I can read the 
mystery of mankind. You who have a stronger individuality — a 
passionate, exacting personality, an intolerable ego which must be 
satisfied somehow — are created to suffer. I am created to enjoy. 
For me life, as you say, is a jest." 

'' So it was for Goethe's Devil," answered Hillersdon. "I believe 
there is a touch of the diabolical in your composition, and that you 
have about as much heart and conscience as Mephistopheles. 
However, I am beholden to you for your persistence in bringing 
me here to-night, for you have amused me, mystified me, stimu- 
lated my curiosity, and routed thoughts which I confess were of the 
darkest." 

" Didn't I tell you a supper and a bottle of wine would be your 
best counsellor ? " exclaimed Jermyn, laughing. 

" But tlie dark thoughts will return in a day or two, no doubt, 
Biuce you have no talisman to offer me which will pour gold into 



50 Gerard ; or, 

empty pockets, and you do not even propose to buy my shadow. 
I would run the risk of being as conspicuous as Peter Schlemihl, 
for the same power to create illimitable heaps of sterling coin." 

"Ah, those are old stories — allegories all, be assured. If I were 
to say I saw the promise of fortune on that perplexed brow of yours 
you would laugh at me. AH I ask is that if Fortune does pour her 
gifts into your lap you wiU remember that I bade you tarry at the 
gate of death." 



CHAPTER IV. 

" WE ARE SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE OF." 

The domes and steeples of the great city, towers and warehouses, 
roofs old and new, showed dark against a saffron sky, as Gerard 
Hillersdon set his face to the west in the freshness and quiet of 
early morning. He had drunk enough and talked enough to exalt 
his spirits with an unwonted elation, as if life and the world were 
new, and all his troubles and perplexities cast off like a slough, and 
flung behind him into the universal dust-heap men call the Past. 
There is no Nepenthe like a night's debauch for obliterating worldly 
cares. Unhappily the efiect is but transient, and Memory will 
resume her sway. In this summer dawning Gerard walked through 
the empty streets with a tread as light as if his youth had never 
been shadowed by a care. In this mood of his he accepted Justin 
Jermyn as a serious fact, a man of unusual gifts and faculties ; a 
man who by fair means or foul had plucked him by the sleeve and 
held him back from the brink of a dark gulf which he ^shuddered to 
think upon. 

" To be or not to be? " he muttered, slackening his steps in the 
morning solitude of Lincoln's Inn, where there were faint odours of 
fohago and flowers freshened by the dews of night. " To be or not 
to be ? I was a fool to think that my choice was inevitable. Faust 
had the poison at his lips, when the Easter joybells stayed his hand. 
And after that burst of heavenly gladness — and after that thrilling 
chorus, ' Christ is risen ' — came the fiend with his worldly-wise 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 31 

philosophy, and his gifts of wealth and power. Is the influence 
that stayed my hand from heaven or from hell, I wonder ? " 

His thoughts reverted to the face of the girl at the sewing- 
machine. He was in no mood to trouble himself as to the nature of 
the vision he had seen ; whether it were hypnotic, or some juggler's 
trick produced by mechanical means. It was of the face that he 
thought, for it was a familiar face ; a face out of the long ago ; and 
he tried in vain to fix it in his memory. It floated there, vaguely 
mixed with the vision of his vanished boyhood— a dream of summer 
and sunny days, of woods and waters, in the far-off west, which 
seemed as another and half-forgotten world in the midst of this 
grey, smoke-stained city. 

He let himself into the dark and airless lodging-house passage 
with his latchkey, a privilege he could scarcely hope to enjoy many 
days longer, imless he could comply with, or compromise, the 
demand in his landlord's letter. Yet even the possibility of being 
turned out of doors seemed hardly to trouble liim this morning. At 
the worst he could go down to his father's rectory, and bury him- 
self among green leaves and village faces. And if he must be 
bankrupt, see his name in the Gazette, shameful as the thmg 
would seem to the rural rector and liis wife, he would not be the 
first. Among the youthful scions of the nobility bankruptcy is as 
common as scarlet fever ; nay, almost as inevitable as measles. 

His sitting-room and the adjoining bedi'oom looked shabbier than 
usual in the clear morning light, after those luxurious rooms of 
Justin Jermyn's. The furniture had been good enough once upon 
a time, for its specific purpose — brass bedstead, bird's-eye-maple 
wardrobe and dressing-table in the bedroom, walnut-wood and 
cretonne in the sitting-room — but everything in the rooms had 
grown shabby and squalid with the wear and tear of successive 
lodgers ; and the landlord, crippled by bad debts, had never been 
rich enough to renew the cretonne, or improve upon the Phihstinism 
of the walnut-wood. A sordid den, repulsive to the eye of a man 
with any feehng for the beautiful. 

Hillersdon was tired and exhausted, but slumber was far from his 
eyehds, and he knew it was useless to go to bed while his brain was 
working with a forty-horse power, and his temples were racked with 
neuralgic pain. He flung himself into an arm-chair, lighted a cigar 
which Jermyn had thrust upon him at parting, and looked idly 
round the room. 

There were some letters upon the table, at least half a dozen, the 



32 Gerard ; or, 

usual thing no doubt — bills and threatening letters from law^'ers of 
obscure address, calling his attention to neglected apphcations from 
tradesmen. Common as such letters were, it was always a shock to 
him to find that the bland and obliging purveyor had handed him 
over to the iron hand of the solicitor. He was in no haste to open 
those letters, which would supply so many items in his schedule, 
perhaps, a few days later. Insolvency had been staring him in the 
face for a long time, and there was no alternative between death 
and the Gazette. 

He finished his cigar, and then began to open his letters, delibe- 
rately, and as it were with a gloomy relish. 

The first was from his hatter, piteously respectful ; the second was 
from a solicitor in Bloomsbury, calling attention to an account of 
three years' standing with a Bond Street hairdresser ; and the third 
and fourth were those uninforming yet significant documents, bill 
delivered, bearing date of the vanished years, and with a footnote 
requesting his earliest attention. Bill delivered. What value had 
he received for the sums demanded ? A scarf, a pair of gloves, now 
and again, bought casually 'pour passer le temps, a set of shirts, 
perhaps, ordered to please the tradesman rather than from any need 
of his own, a dressing-jacket or two, and behold the man was 
clamouring for thirty-seven pounds odd shillings and pence ! 

He opened the fifth letter, which announced itself upon the 
envelope as from Lincoln's Inn Fields, and which, by the thickness 
of the paper and style of the address, was at least from a soHcitor 
of position and respectability. Yet doubtless the tune was only the 
old tune, played upon a superior instrument. No, by Heaven ! it 
was not the old formula. 

" 190, Lincoln's Inn Fields, W.C. 

"/«/y 17, 188— 
" Sm, 

" If you are the same Mr. Gerard Hillersdon who in 1879 
rescued an old gentleman from an approaching engine in the station 
at Nice, we have the honour to inform you that our late client, Mr. 
j\Iilford, banker, of London, Marseilles, and Nice, has bequeathed 
the bulk of his large fortune to you, as residuary legatee. Our 
cUent was of somewhat eccentric habits, but we have no reason to 
doubt his disposing power at the date of the will, nor do we at 
present apprehend any attempt to dispute the said will, since Mr. 
Milford leaves no near relations. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 33 

" We shall be glad to see you, either here or at your own resi- 
dence, at your earliest convenience. 

" We have the honour to be, sir, 
"Yours, etc., etc., 

"Ckafton and Ceanberky." 

Hillersdon turned the letter over and over in his hands, as if 
expecting that solid sheet of paper to change into a withered leaf 
imder his touch ; and then he burst into a laugh, as loud but not as 
joyous as Jermyn's gnome-like mirth. 

" A trick," he cried, " a palpable trick, of the fate-reader, hypno- 
tist, whatever he may please to call himself. A cruel jest, rather ; 
to mock parched lips with the promise of the fountain ; to exercise 
his fancy upon a destitute man. Well, I am not to be caught so 
easily. The churl whose remnant of life I saved at Nice was no 
wealthy banker, I'll be sworn, but some impecunious nobody who 
was soured by losses at Monte Carlo." 

He looked at his watch. Half-past five. A good many hours 
must pass before it would be possible to discover the existence or 
non-existence of Grafton and Cranberry, and the authenticity of the 
letter on the table there, where he had flung it, a most respectable 
looking letter assuredly, if looks were anything to the purpose. 

" Easy enough for him to get a lawyer's clerk to write on tho 
firm's paper," he thought. Yet it were a hazardous thing to be 
done by any clerk, unless a discarded servant. 

"How did he know?" mused Hillersdon. "It was after mid- 
night I told him my adventure at Nice, and this letter was delivered 
by the last post at ten o'clock." 

It was not impossible, though, for Jermyn to have heard of the 
old hunks at the Nice Station from Gilbert Watson, Hillersdon's 
friend, who had seen the end of the adventure, and heard the old 
man clamouring for his umbrella. Watson was a man about town, 
and might have been in contact with Jermyn, who was a season 
celebrity, and went everywhere. 

Gerard threw himself dressed upon his bed, slept a troubled sleep 
in briefest intervals, and lay awake for the rest of the time between 
half-past five and half-past eight, when his servant Dodd — an old 
retainer, who had married and outlived the rectory nurse — brought 
him his early cup of tea and prepared his bath. He was dressed 
and out of doors by half-past nine, and a handsom took him to 
Lincoln's Inn Fields before the stroke of ten. 



34 Gerard ; or, 

The office was evidently just opened, a most respectable office. 
An elderly clerk showed Mr. Hillersdon into a handsome waiting- 
room, where the newly-cut newspapers were systematically arranged 
upon a massive mahogany office table. Neither of the principals 
had arrived from their West End houses. 

Gerard's impatience could not brook delay. 

" Do you know anything about this letter ? " he asked, showing 
the open document. 

'' I ought, sir, for it was I who wrote it," answered the grey-haired 
clerk. 

" By way of a practical joke, I suppose," said Hillersdon grimly, 
" to oblige a facetious friend." 

"Messrs. Grafton and Granberry do not deal in practical jokes, 
sir," replied the clerk, with dignity. " I wrote that letter at Mr. 
Grafton's dictation, and if you are the Mr. Hillersdon there referred 
fo it really ought to be a very pleasant letter for you to receive." 

" Very pleasant, if I could venture to take it seriously." 

" "Why should you suspect a jest, sir, in so grave a matter, and 
coming to you from a firm of undoubted respectability ? " 

Hillersdon sighed impatiently, and passed his hand across his 
forehead with a troubled gesture. How did he know that this scene 
of the lawj'er's office, the letter in his hand, the grey-haired, grave 
old clerk talking to him, were not part and parcel of some hypnotic 
vision, no more real than the figure of the girl at the sewing- 
machine which those same eyes of his had looked at last night. 
He stood irresolute, incredulous, silent, while the old clerk deferen- 
tially awaited his pleasure. The outer door opened as he stood 
there, and the measured footsteps of dignified middle-age crossed 
the hall. 

"Mr. Grafton," said the clerk. "He will be able to assure you 
that there has been no jesting, sir." 

Mr. Grafton entered, tall, broad, bulky, imposing, faultlessly 
dressed for his role of man of the world, not imaccustomed to 
society, and trustworthy family lawyer. 

" Mr. Hillersdon, sir," said the clerk. " He has been disposed to 
think that the letter from the firm was a practical joke." 

" I am hardly surprised at your incredulity, Mr. HUlersdou," said 
the solicitor, in an unctuous and comfortable voice, calculated to 
reassure desponding chents. "That letter may well take your 
breath away. A romance of real life, isn't it ? A young man does 
a plucky thing on the spur of the moment, thinks no more about it, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 35 

and some years after wakes up one morning to find himself — a very 
rich man," concluded Mr. Grafton, pulling up suddenly, as if he 
might have used a much bigger phrase. " Kindly step into my 
private room. You can bring us the copy of the will, Coxfield." 

The clerk retired, and Mr. Grafton ushered his visitor into a large 
front office, as imposing as his own figui'e. 

" Pray be seated, Mr. Hillersdon " — waving his hand towards a 
spacious arm chair. " Yes, the whole story comes within the region 
of romance ; yet it is not the first time in testamentary history that 
a large fortune has been left to a stranger as a reward for some 
service barely acknowledged when it was rendered. Our late client, 
Mr. Milford, was a cm-ious man. I'll warrant now he took very 
Mttle trouble to show his gratitude when you had hazarded your life 
in his service." 

" The only trouble he took was about his umbrella, which he was 
vociferously anxious to recover." 

" So hke him, dear old man. A character, my dear sir, a 
character. You wouldn't have given twenty shillings for the 
clothes he wore that day, I dare say — umbrella included." 

" If clothes and umbrella had been on my premises, I would have 
given ten shillings to get them taken away." 

"Precisely," exclaimed the lawyer, with his genial chuckle. "A 
very remarkable man. I doubt if he paid his tailor ten pound a 
year — or five. Yet a man of large benevolence, a man whose left 
hand knew not what his right hand gave. But now we have to 
come to the crucial question. Can you establish your identity with 
the Gerard Hillersdon whose name our late client took down from 
Mr. Gilbert Watson's dictation in the station at Nice." 

" Very easily, I think. In the first place, I doubt if there is any 
other Gerard HUderson in the directory, as the name Gerard comes 
from my mother's side of the house, and was not in the Hillersdon 
family before I was christened. Secondly, my friend Watson is 
now in London, and will readily identify me as the man about whose 
name your cUent inquired when I had left the platform. Thirdly, 
it would be easy, were fuilher evidence needed, to establish the 
fact that I was residing at the Hotel Mont Fleuri, Gannes, at 
that date, and that I went to Nice on the first day of the 
Carnival." 

"I do not think there will be any difficulty as to identity," Mr. 
Grafton replied suavely. "Your present address is the same a3 
that which Mr. Watson gave our lamented client, and he fui-ther 



36 ■ Gerard ; or, 

described you as the son of the Hector of Helmsleigh, Devon, a 
detail no doubt elicited by Mr. Milford's inquiry. Here is a copy 
of the will. You would like to hear it, perhaps," suggested Mr. 
Grafton, as the clerk entered and kid the document before him. 
" Very much." 

Mr. Grafton read in a clear, distmct voice and with great unction. 
The will was dated six months previously, and was made at Nice. 
It opened with a long list of legacies, to old servants, to the clerks 
in three banking-houses, in London, Marseilles, Nice, to numerous 
charities, to Mr. Grafton and his partner, Mr. Granberry. HiUers- 
don sat aghast as he heard thousands and fives and tens of thousands 
disposed of in this manner. To the Hospital for Children, Great 
Ormond Street, ten thousand; five thousand to St. George's 
Hospital ; a thousand each to ten Orphanages ; five thousand to a 
Gonvalescent Hospital ; three thousand to an Asylum for the Blind. 
Would there be anything left for him after this lavish distribution ? 
The passage in the will which concerned himself came at last, and 
was simple and brief. " Finally, I bequeath the residue of my 
estate, real and personal, to Gerard HiUersdon, younger son of the 
Rev. Edward HiUersdon, Eector of Helmsleigh, Devon, in recogni- 
tion of his generosity and courage in saving my life at the hazard 
of his own in the railway station in this place, on the 14th of 
February, 1879, and I appoint James Grafton, SoHcitor, of 190, 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, sole executor of this my will." 

"It is a noble reward for an action to which I never attached 
the slightest importance," said HiUersdon, pale to the lips with 
suppressed emotion. " I saw a young man at Newton Abbot do 
almost as much to save a dog, which was running up and down the 
line, scared by the porters who shouted at him. That young man 
jumped down upon the metals and picked up the dog in front of 
the engine — somebody else's cur, not even his own property. And 
I_because in common humanity I plucked an old man from instant 
death— yes, it was a near shave, I know, and might have ended 
badly for me— but it was only instinctive humanity, after all— I 
am left a fortune. It is a fortune, I suppose ? " 

"Yes, Mr. HiUersdon, a large fortune— something over two 
millions, consisting of lands, houses, consols, bank stock, railway 
and other shares, together with the sole interest in the firm of 
Milford Brothers, Bankers, of London, MarsciUes, and Nice. 

HiUersdon broke down utterly at this point. He turned his face 
from the spectators, principal and clerk, and fought hard with 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 37 

himself to keep back a ^burst of hysterical tears mixed with 
hysterical laughter. 

" It is too ridiculous," he said, when he had recovered his speech. 
" Yesterday I was in the depths of despair. It is real, isn't it ? " he 
asked piteously. " You are not fooling me — you are real men, you 
two, not shadows ? This is not a dream ? " 

He struck his hand on the table so heavily as to produce severe 
pain. 

" That is real, at any rate," he muttered. 

Solicitor and clerk looked at each other dubiously. They were 
afraid their news had been too sudden, and that it had turned this 
possible client's head. 

" Advance me some money," asked Hillersdon abruptly. " Come, 
Mr. Grafton, give me your cheque for a good round sum, and when 
I have cashed that cheque I shall begin to believe in Mr. Milford's 
will and in your good faith. I am up to my eyes in debt, and it 
will be a new sensation to be able to pay the most pressing of my 
creditors." 

Mr. Grafton had his cheque-book open and his pen dipped in the 
mk before this potential chent had done speaking. 

" How much would you like ? " he asked. 

" How much ? Would five himdred be too large an advance ? " 

" A thousand, if you Hke." 

"No, five hundred will do. You will act as my soHcitors, I 
suppose — carry through this business for me. I am as ignorant of 
the law as the sheep who provide your parchment. I shall have 
to prove the will I suppose. I haven't the faintest notion what 
that means." 

" That wiU be my duty as executor. Our firm will settle all 
details for you, if you have no family lawyer whom you would 
prefer to employ." 

" I dont care a rap for our family lawyer. He has never done 
anything to endear himself to me. If you were good enough for 
Mr. Milford — my benefactor — you are good enough for me. And 
now I'll go and cash this cheque." 

" Will you allow our messenger to do that for you ? " 

"Thanks, no. I hke the sensation of a bank counter when I 
have money to receive. How will I have it ? A hundred in tens, 
the rest in fifties. How I shall astonish my worthy landlord ! 
Good day. Send for me when you want me to execute deeds, or 
sign documents." 



38 Gerard ; or, 

He went out on to the sunny pavement where the hansom was 
waiting for him ; went out with a step so Hght he was scarcely 
conscious of the pavement under his feet. Even yet he could 
scarcely divest himself of the idea that he was the sport of dreams, 
or of some strange jugglery worked by the man with the Hght-blue 
eyes and the uncanny laugh. 

He drove to the Union Bank, in Chancery Lane, cashed hig 
cheque, and then drove about the West End, to tailor, hatter, hair- 
dresser, hosier, paying fifties on account. He had only a hundred 
and fifty left when he got back to his lodgings, and out of this he 
paid his landlord a hundred. The remaining fifty was for pocket- 
money. It was such a new sensation to have satisfied his creditors, 
that he felt as if he were made of air. He was convinced of the 
fact now. This thing was a reality. Fortune had turned her wheel — 
turned it so completely that he who had been at the bottom was 
now at the top. What would his own people think of this wonder 
that had befallen him ? A millionaire ! he, the thriftless son, 
who had until now been only a burden and a care to father and 
mother. He would not write. He would run down to Devonshire 
in a day or two, and tell them this wonderful story with his own 
hps. 

And but for Justin Jermyn's interference he would have shot 
himself last night, and would have been lying stark and stiff this 
morning. Yet, no, the letter was delivered at his lodgings last night, 
at ten o'clock. Fortune had turned her wheel. The tidings of her 
bounty were waiting for him while he was foohng in the Fate- 
reader's room, the sport ot a shallow trickster. 

" And yet he seemed to know," thought Hillersdon ; " he hinted 
at a change of fortune — he led me on to talk of the old man at 
Nice." 

He felt a sudden desire to see Jermyn, to tell him what had 
happened ; to talk over his monstrous luck ; to see what effect the 
news would have upon the Fate-reader. There were other people 
he wanted to see — most especially Edith Champion — but the desire 
to see Jermyn was the strongest of all. He got into a cab, and 
told the man to drive to Holborn. 

He hadn't the remotest idea whereabouts in Holborn that old 
Inn was situated, or whether in any adjacent thoroughfare. He 
dismissed his cab at Warwick Court, and went about on foot, in and 
out of dingy old gateways, and in all the " dusty purlieus of the 
law," as existent in the neighbourhood of Holborn ; but nowhere 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 39 

could he find gate-house, or semi-deserted inn that in any wise 
resembled the place to which Jermyn had taken him last night. 

After nearly two hours of ineffectual exploration he gave up the 
search, and drove to the West End, where, at the Sensorium, a 
smart dilettante club of which he was a member, he hoped to hear 
Jermyn's address. It was tea-time, and there were a good many 
men in the reading-room and adjacent smoke-room, and among 
them several of Hillersdon's friends. 

He sat down in the midst of a little knot of acquaintances, and 
ordered his tea at a table where he was welcomed with marked 
cordiahty — welcomed by men who knew not that they were 
welcoming a millionaire. 

"You know everything that's going on, Vane," he said, to one of 
these ; " so of course you know Jermyn, the Fate-reader? " 

"Intimately. It was I who secured him for Lady Fridoline 
yesterday. He doesn't, as a rule, show liimself at the common or 
garden-party, but he went to Fridoline House to oblige me." 
" Will you tell me where he lives ? " 

"Nowhere. He is much too clever to put an address on his 
card, like a commonplace individual. He is to be heard of here, or 
at the Heptachord. He is a member of both clubs, though he 
rarely shows at either — ^but as to an address, a vulgar lodging-house 
address, like yours or mine. Pas si hete ! If he put anjiihing on 
his card it would be Styx, or Orcus." 

" My dear fellow, I supped with him last night at his chambers." 
" Then you know where they are ? " 

*' That is exactly what I do not know. Jermyn insisted upon 
my going to supper with him last night after the opera. We 
walked from Covent Garden to his chambers. We were talking all 
the time, and except that we passed through Queen Street and 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, I haven't an idea as to what direction we took, 
or where the curious shabby old Inn is situated." 
Youth's frank laughter gi'eeted this avowal. 
" Then aU I can say, my dear Hillersdon, is that you were rather 
more ' on ' than a man generally is when he leaves the opera. You 
were very lucky to get out of Bow Street." 

" Would you be surprised to hear that I had taken nothing 
stronger than Salutaris at dinner, and nothing whatever after dinner? 
No, wine had nothing to do with my mental condition. Jermyn 
and I were talking. I was iu a somewhat dreamy mood, and 
allowed myself to be piloted without taking any notice of the way 



40 Geraf'd ; or, 

■we went. I will own that when I left him at four o'clock this 
morning my head was not quite so clear, and London might be 
Bagdad for all I know of the streets and squares through which I 
made tracks for Piccadilly." 

" So Jermyn entertains, does he ? " exclaimed Roger Larose, the 
assthetic architect, and elegant idler, a man who always looked as if 
he had just stepped out of one of Marcus Stone's pictures; ''this 
must be inquired into. He has never entertained me. Was your 
drunkenness a pleasant intoxication? Was his wine irreproach- 
able ? " 

" More, it was irresistible. He gave me some old Madeira that 
was hke melted gold, and his champagne had the cool freshness of 
a viTldrose, an aroma as dehcate as the perfume of the flower." 

"I beheve he hj-pnotised you, and that there was nothing; or 
perhaps bread and cheese and porter," said Larose. " Where are 
you going, and what are you going to do this afternoon? I've 
some Hurlingham vouchers in my pocket. Shall we go and see 
the polo match, or shoot pigeons, and dine on the lawn ? " 

A thrill went through HiUersdon's heart at the thought that 
yesterday, had Larose made such a proposition, he would have been 
obliged to dechne, with whatever excuse he might invent on the 
spur of the moment. Yesterday the half-guinea gate-money and 
the risk of being let ia to pay for the dinner would have made 
Hurhngham forbidden ground. To-day he was eager to taste the 
new joy of spending money •uathout one agonising scruple, one pang 
of remorse for extravagance that meant dishonesty. 

" I am going to call on some ladies," he said. " If you can give 
me a couple of ladies' tickets and one for^ myself, I will meet you ia 
time for dinner." 

" Do I know the ladies ? Is Mrs. Champion one of them? " 

" Yes." 

" Delightful — & parti carre. It is going to be a piping night. We 
will dine on the lawn, hear the chimes at midnight, steahng softly 
along the river from the great bell at Westminster. We will fancy 
we see firefhes and that Fulham is Tuscany — fancy ourselves in the 
Casciue Gardens, which are not half so pretty as Hurhngham or 
Barn Elms, when all is said and done. Get along with you, 
Hillersdon. In spite of your debauch you are looking as happy as 
if you had just had a fortune left you."; 

Gerard Hillersdon laughed somewhat hysterically, and hurried 
out of the club. He had cot the courage to tell any one what had 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 41 

happened to him — not yet. That word hypnotism frightened him, 
even after this seemingly substantial evidence of his good luck. 
The lawyer's office, the bank, the notes, and tradesmen's receipts ! 
Might not all these be part and parcel of the same hj^pnotic trance. 
He pulled a bundle of receipted accounts out of his pocket. Yes, 
those were real, or as real as anything can be to a man who dares 
not be sure that he is not dreaming. 

He drove to Hertford Street. Mrs. Champion was at home, and 
alone. Her carriage was at the door ready to take her to the Park- 
Mrs. Gresham was again engaged in the cause of the AngUcan 
Orphans, serving tea and cake to the shilling people on the second 
day of the bazaar at the Riding School, and was to be called for at 
six o'clock. 

Mrs. Champion was sitting in a darkened drawing-room, in an 
atmosphere of tropical flowers, dressed in India muslin, the room 
and the lady alike suggestive of coolness and repose after the glare 
and the traffic of the streets. She looked up from her book with a 
start of surprise at hearing Hillersdon's name. 

" I thought you were half way to Germany by this time," she 
said, evidently not ill-pleased at his return, as it were a bird flutter- 
ing back to the open door of his cage, " but perhaps you missed 
your train and are going to-morrow." 

" No, Mrs. Champion, I changed my mind, and I am not going 
at all." 

" How nice ! " she said sweetly, laying aside her book and pre- 
paring to be confidential. " Was it to please me you stayed? " 

He made up his mind that he must tell her. His mouth grew 
dry and hot at the very thought ; but he could no* keep the know- 
ledge of his altered fate from this woman who had been, who was 
still, perhaps, the other half of his soul. 

" For once in my life," he said quietly, " or let me say for once 
since I first met you — your wish was not my only law. Some- 
thing has happened to me— to change my life altogether since 
yesterday." 

That hoarse broken voice and the intensity of his look scared her. 
Imagination set off at a gallop. 

" You are engaged to be married," she cried, rising suddenly out 
of her low chair, straight as a dart, and deadly pale. "These 
things always end so. You have been loyal to me for years, and 
now you have grown weary, and you want a wife — Elaine instead 
of Guinevere — and you meant to run away to Germany and break 



42 Gerard ; or, 

the thing to me in a letter— and then you changed your mind and 
took courage to tell me with your own false hps." 

This burst of passion— her white face and iiashing eyes— were a 
revelation to him. He had thought her as calm and cold as a snow 
fi.gure that children build in a garden; and behold he had been 
playing with fire aU this time. 

He was standing by her side in an instant, holdmg her icy hands, 
drawing her nearer to him. 

" Edith, Edith, can you think so poorly of me ? Engaged ! Why, 
you know there is no other woman I care for — have ever cared for. 
Engaged, in a day, in an hour! Have I not given you my hfe? 
What more could I do ? " 

"You are not! Oh, thank God. I could bear anything but 

that." 

"And yet— and yet— you hold me at arm's length," he said 

fondly, with his lips near hers. 

She was the snow figure again in a moment, standing before him 
in her matronly dignity, cold, proud, unapproachable. 

" I was foohsh to put myself in a passion," she said, " and, after 
all, whenever you want to marry I shall have no right to hinder 
you. Only I should hke to know your plans in good time, so that 
I may accustom myself to the idea. The horses have been at the 
door ever so long, and that hard working Kosa will be waiting for 
me. Will you come for a drive round the Park V " 

" I shall be charmed ; but I want you and Mrs. Gresham to dine 
with me at Hurlingham. We can go on there when you have done 

your Park." 

" I don't care a straw for the Park. Let us go straight to Hurl- 
ingham and see the Polo. But I am so carelessly dressed; shall I 
do° do you think, or must I put on a smarter gown? " 

She stood up before him in a cloud of muslin and lace, a gown so 
flowing and graceful in its draping over bust and hips, that it might 
have been a cloud of spray clothing a nymph at a fountain. 

" Your careless costume is simply perfection. Only be sure and 
bring a warm wrap, for we may be sitting late upon the lawn." 

She touched a spring bell, and her maid appeared with a white 
Gainsborough hat and a pair of long suede gloves. Wraps were 
sent for the butler was informed that his mistress would not dine at 
home, and the barouche drove oif with Gerard on the front seat, 
opposite Mrs. Champion. 

« What can have happened to change yoiu- life, if you arc not 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 43 

going to be married ? " she asked, as they turned into Piccadillj'. 
" You mystify me. I hope it is nothing bad — no misfortune to any 
of your people ? " 

"No, it is something distinctly good. An eccentric old man, 
whom I was once so fortunate as to oblige, has left me the bulk of 
his fortune." 

" I congratulate you," she said ; but there was a troubled look in 
her face that surprised him. 

Surely she ought to be glad. 

" Does that mean that you are a rich man ? " she asked, after a 
pause. 

" Yes, I am a rich man." 

"How rich?" 

" As rich as anybody need care to be. I am told that the fortune 
left me is something over two millions." 

" Two millions of francs ? " 

" Two millions sterling." 

" Good heavens ! Why, Champion is a pauper compared with 
you. This is too absurd ! " 

" It does savour of the ridiculous, I admit," said Hillersdon, some- 
what piqued by her manner of treating the subject. " Povertv was 
my metier no doubt. I was born to be a hanger-on upon the great 
world ; to taste its pleasures by the favour of other people ; to visit 
in smart houses on sufferance ; to live in a shabby lodging and find 
my warmest welcome at a club." 

" Two millions ! " repeated Edith. " I am sure James has not 
as much. Two millions ! You will have to marry now, of 
course." 

" Have to ! "V\Tiy should I be constrained to marry just when 
I have the means of enjoying a bachelor's Hfe ? " 

" You will be made to marry, I tell you," she answered im- 
patiently. '' You don't know what women are who have daughters 
to marry. You don't know what girls are — hardened worldly girls 
in their third or fourth season — who want to secure a rich husband, 
Y"ou can't possibly estimate the influences that will be brought to 
bear upon you. All the spinsters in London will be at your feet." 

" For the sake of my two millions. Are women so mercenary ? " 

"They are obliged to be," answered Edith Champion. "We 
Hve iu an age in which poverty is utterly intolerable. One must 
be rich or miserable. Do you think I would have consented to 
marry Mr. Champion, in spite of all the pressure my family put 



44 Gerard ; or, 

upon me, if I had been brave enough to bear poverty with you? 
No, to be well born means the necessity of wealth. One's birth- 
right is to belong to the smart world, and to be poor in that world 
is to be a social martyr. I have often envied the women born 
at Camberwell or Islington ; the women who go to the butcher's to 
buy the dinner, and who wear cotton gloves." 

"Yes, there is an independence in those lower depths. One can 
be poor and unashamed, if one belongs to the proletariat. But be 
assured, my dear Mrs. Champion, that I shall not fall a victim to 
a manoeuvring mother or an enterprising young lady. I shall know 
how to enjoy wealth and freedom." 

Edith sighed. Would not the independence of unlimited wealth 
tempt her slave to throw off the yoke ? Could he ever be again — 
he the millionaire — what he had been to her ? Would he be content 
to dance attendance upon her, to be at her beck and call, an 
inevitable guest at all her parties, to hand tea-cups at her afternoons 
when he was perhaps the only man present, to fetch and carry 
for her, find her the newest books in French and German, taste 
them for her before she took the trouble to read them, keep her 
posted in the gossip of the clubs, so far as such gossip was fitting 
for a lady to know? For the last three years he had been her 
second self, had supplemented her intellect and amused her leisure. 
But would he be content to play the satellite now that wealth would 
give him power to be a planet, with moons and satellites of his 
own? 

"He will marry," she told herself. "There is no use talking 
about it. It was easy to keep him in leading-strings while he was 
too poor to be worth any marriageable girl's attention. But now he 
will be forced into marriage. The thing is inevitable." 

The carriage stopped at the Riding School, and the footman went 
in to look for Rosa Gresham, who came tripping out presently, 
airily dressed as befitted the summer solstice, and somewhat purple 
as to complexion. 

" We are going to take you to dine at HurUngham," said Edith. 

" How awfully good of you ! I am dead beat. The shilling 
people were too honid — staring, and pushing, and squabbling for 
their right change, and gobbling cake in a revolting mamier. I 
don't think our stall can have cleared its expenses. How well you 
are looking this afternoon, Mr. Hillersdon ! and yesterday I thought 
you looked dreadful, so hollow under the eyes, so pale and 
haggard." i 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 45 

" I thought I was going away, to part company with all I cared 
for," said Gerard. 

" And now you are not going? " 

" No," Edith answered, with a laugh which was not altogether 
joyous. " He may well look different. Though form and feature 
are unchanged he is a different man. Kosa, you are sitting 
opposite a millionaire." 

" Heavens ! Do you really mean it, or is it a joke? " 

"I hope and believe that it is serious. I have the assurance 
of a dry-as-dust solicitor that there is as much money in the world, 
and that it belongs to me. And I cannot even thank the man who 
gave it me, for the hand that gave it is in the dust." 

•' And to think that you never came to our Bazaar, never gave 
one thought, in the midst of your prosperity, to the Anglican 
Orphans ! " exclaimed Rosa. 



CHAPTER V. 

LIFE UPON NEW LINES. 

The nightingales 'were gone, but the roses were left, and it was 
pleasant to sit on the lawn and hear the plash of the tide, and see 
the stars come slowly out, large and red in the smoke-tainted 
atmosphere, above the tufted elms of Hurlingham. Roger Larose 
talked his best in that dim light, and Gerard, who had been silent 
and moody at the little dinner in Hertford Street yesterday, was 
to-night as joyous as the thrushes that were singing their evening 
hymn in the cool dusk of deserted shrubberies. And all the 
difference — the difference between despair and gladness, between 
gloom and mirth, between eager delight in life and dull disgust, had 
been brought about by the most sordid factor in the sum of man's 
existence — filthy lucre. 

No matter the cause when the effect was so enchanting. Gerard's 
elation communicated itself to his companions. More champagne 
was consumed at that little table in the garden than at any other 
party of four in the club, and yet the house was crowded with 
diners, and there were other groups scattered here and there, 
banqueting under the roof of heaven. Ligb.test talk and gladdest 



4^ Gerard ; or, 

laughter beguiled the hours till nearly midnight, when Mrs. Gresham 
remembered an early celebration at a ritualistic temple in Holborn, 
and entreated to be taken home at once, so that she might secure 
certain hours of pious seclusion before dawn. 

Gerard had requested that no word of his altered fortunes should 
be spoken before Eoger Larose. Koger and the rest of the world 
would hear all about his good luck in due course ; but he shrank 
from the idea of endless congratulations, very few of them cordial 
and disinterested. Time enough when the inexorable Illustrated 
London Neios had acquainted society with the particulars of Mr- 
Milford's will. 

The two women behaved with discretion, and although Larose 
wondered a little at the superb indifference with which Hillersdon 
paid for the dinner, and left the change of a ten-pound note to the 
waiter, knowing that of late his friend had suffered from youth's 
common malady of impecuniousness, he ascribed this freedom only 
to some windfall which afforded temporary relief. 

On their way to the carriage Mrs. Gresham contrived to get 
Hillersdon all to herself, while Larose and Mrs. Champion walked 
in advance of them. 

"Dear Mr. Hillersdon, a fortune such as yours is a vast re- 
eponsibility for a Christian," she began solemnly. 

" I haven't looked at it in that light, Mrs. Gresham ; but I own 
that it wUl take a good deal of spending." 

" It will, and the grand thing will be to secure good results for 
your outlay. There is one good work I should like to introduce 
to your notice before you are beset by appeals from strangers. 
The chief desire of my husband's heart, and I may say also of mine, 
is to enlarge our Parish Church, now altogether unarchitectural 
and inadequate to the wants of the increased congregation which 
his eloquence and strength of character have attracted. In the late 
incumbent's time the church used to be half empty, and mice ran 
about in the gallery. We want to do away with that horrid gallery, 
build a transept which would absorb the existing chancel, and add 
a new and finer chancel. It will cost a great deal of money, but 
we have many promises of help if any benefactor would give a 
large donation — say a thousand guineas— to start the fund in a 
Bubstantial manner." 

" My dear Mrs. Gresham, you forget that I am a parson's son. 
Dog doesn't eat dog, you know. I have no doubt my father's 
church needs enlargement. I know it has a pervading mouldmess 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 47 

which calls for restoration. I must think of him before I start 
your fund." 

"If you have not yet learnt how to spend your fortune, you 
certainly seem to know how to take care of it, Mr. HUlersdon," 
said Mrs. Gresham, with some asperity; and then recovering 
herself, she continued airily, " It was rather too bad of me perhaps 
to plague you so soon, but in the cause of the Church one must ask 
in season and out of season." 

They went through the house and waited in the vestibule while 
the carriage was brought to the door, and they all went back to 
town together in the barouche, and wound up with an after-midnight 
cup of tea in Mrs. Champion's drawing-room, a labyrinth of luxurious 
chairs, and palms, and Indian screens, and many-shaped tables, 
loaded with bric-a-brac of the costhest kind, glimmering in the 
tempered hght of amber-shaded lamps. 

"I like the French custom of midnight tea," said Larose. "It 
stretches the thread of life and shortens the night of the brain." 

Mrs. Gresham shpped away with ostentatious stealthiness after 
a hasty cup of tea ; but the others sat late, beguiled by the reposeful 
atmosphere — they three alone in the spacious room, with its perfume 
of tea-roses and shadow of dark fan-shaped leaves. Edith Champion 
was not a person of many accompUshments. She neither played 
nor sang, she neither painted pictures nor wrote verses, preferring 
that such things should be done for her by those who made it the 
business of their lives to do them well. But she was past-mistress 
of the decorative art, and there were few women in London or Paris 
who could approach her in the arrangement of a dra-^dng-room. 

" My drawing-room is part of myself," she said ; " it reflects 
every shade of my character, and changes as I change." 

It was past one o'clock when HUlersdon and Larose left Hert- 
ford Street. Piccadilly and the Park looked almost romantic in the 
moonlight. That cup of strong Indian tea had worked the usual 
efiPect of such potions, and both men were disinclined to go home 
to the uninviting seclusion of a lodging-house bedroom. 

" Shall we go to the Petunia ? " asked Larose, suggesting one of 
those after-midnight clubs where the society is decidedly mixed, 
and where the champagne costs twice as much as at the Carlton or 
the Reform." 

" I detest the Petunia." 

"The Small Hours, then? They are giving really good music 
now, and we can get devilled bones or a lobster to our supper." 



48 



Gerard ; or, 



" Thanks, no ; I have had enough of society — even yours, which 
is always delightful. I am going for a long walk." 

" That is a safe way of getting rid of me," answered Larose. 
"I never walk a furlong further than I am absolutely obliged. 
Hansom." 

His lodgings were in George Street, Hanover Square, hardly a 
profitable shilling's worth, but it was not in Larose's temperament 
to consider shillings, until he had spent his last. There were 
intervals when he was without even the indispensable shilling for a 
hansom. 

" And a good thing, too," said one of his friends, on hearing that 
hansoms were impossible, " for then you are obhged to walk." 

" Obliged ! " cried Larose. " Marry ! what should oblige me to 
do anything I don't like doing? No lesser person than ' the blind 
fury with the abhorred shears.' When I can't aflford cabs I take 
to my bed, lie a-bed all day reading Euskin, or dreaming of Coptic 
churches and Moorish interiors, and get up at dusk and make a 
ground plan or sketch a fafade, in my dressing-gown, while the 
housemaid arranges my room. In these intervals I live upon 
biscuits and soda-water, like Byron, and I emerge from my retire- 
ment a renovated and rejuvenated man. Thus do I make necessity 
my nurse, and profit by propulsion," concluded the architect, who 
had a knack of sham quotation. 

HiUersdon was glad to see the cab go swinging round into Bond 
Street with his vivacious friend. He wanted to be alone. He had 
taken a curious fancy into his head, which was to renew his search 
for the curious old Inn where he had supped last night. He fancied 
that he might be able to hit upon the place if he approached it 
under the same conditions of darkness and the comparative solitude 
of night. He had failed utterly to find the old gate-way in the 
glare of day ; yet the fabric must exist somewhere within naiTow 
limits. The whole thing — the house to which he was taken — 
the room in which he sat — the wine he drank — could not be a 
vision of the night. Granted that the face of the girl was a hallu- 
cination put upon him by a clever mesmerist, other things must 
have been real. lie could not have wandered in the streets of 
London for three or four hours in a mesmeric trance, full of vain 
imaginings. No, his memory of every detail, of every word they 
two had spoken, was too distinct to be only the memory of a dream. 

He walked to Bow Street, and from Bow Street went in the 
direction in which he had gone on the night before with Justin 



The Woi'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 49 

Jermyn. After he left Lincoln's Inn Fields he tried to abstract his 
mind and to walk without thought of the way he was going, hoping 
that mstinct might direct his steps in the way they had gone last 
night, the same instinct by which a horse who has travelled a 
road only once will make every turn accurately upon a second 
journey. 

Instinct gave him no help. He wandered up and down Holborn, 
he explored the side streets that he right and left of Gray's Inn 
Lane, he threaded narrow courts and emerged mto Hatton Garden, 
he went back to the Lane and hugged the dingy wall of Verulam 
Buildings; but nowhere did he see gate-house or archway that 
bore the faintest resemblance to the gate-house beneath which he 
passed last night. He began to think that he had been verily upon 
enchanted ground, and that the champagne he had drunk with 
Justin JermjTi was akin to that juice of the grape which Mephis- 
topheles drew from an augur hole in a wooden table. There was 
devilry in last night's business somewhere or somehow. 

He went back to his lodgings mystified and dispirited. He for- 
got that he was a millionaire, and over the scene of life there crept 
once again that dreary neutral hue which it had worn when he 
contemplated making a sudden irrevocable exit from the stage. It 
was three o'clock before he got to Church Court, half-past three 
before he flung himself wearily upon his jingling brazen bed. 

"I must move into better rooms on Monday," he said to himself 
" and I must thmk about getting a house of my own. What is the 
use of wealth if one doesn't enjoy it ? " 

There was very httle enjoyment in him this summer mornin"- 
when the clear bright light stole into his room, and accentuated the 
shabbiness of the well-worn furniture, the hideous PhiUstinism of 
the maple wardrobe, with its Corinthian columns and tall strip of 
looking-glass, glass in which he had critically surveyed his dress 
suit the other evening, wondering how long it would hold out 
against the want of confidence among west-end taUors. He could 
have as many dress suits as he liked now, and could pay as muck 
as the most egregious tailor cared to demand. He could live where 
he liked, start his house and his stable on a footing worthy of Nero 
or Domitian. He could do what he liked with his life, and the 
world would call it good, would wink at his delinquencies and flatter 
his follies. All that the world has of good lay m the hollow of his 
hand, for are not all the world's good things for sale to the highest 
bidder ? He reflected upon this wondrous change in his fortunes, 

s 



50 Gerard; or, 

and yet in this morning hour of solitude and silence the conscious- 
ness of illimitable wealth could not bring him happiness. 

There had always been a vein of superstition in his nature, per- 
haps ; or superstitious fears would scarcely have troubled him in 
the midst of his prosperity. His double attempt to find Jermyn's 
chambers and his double failure had disconcerted him more than 
such a thmg should have done. The adventure gave a suggestion 
of diablerie to his whole history since the moment when Jermyn 
read his secret design in the library at Fridoline House. 

He could not sleep, so he took down the " Peau de Chagrin " 
from the bookcase which held his hmited library, composed of only 
that which he held choicest in literature. One could have read 
the bent of his mind by looking at the titles of those thirty or forty 
books. Goethe's Faust, Heine's poetry and prose, Alfred de Musset, 
Owen Meredith, Villon, Gautier, Balzac, Baudelaire, Kichepin ; the 
literature of despair. 

He read how when the lawyer brought Kaphael the news of his 
fortune, his first thought was to take the " Peau de Chagrin " from 
his pocket and measure it against the tracing he had made upon a 
table-napkin the night before. 

The skin had shrunk perceptibly. So much had gone from his 
life in the emotions of a single night of riot, in the shock of a 
sudden change in his fortunes. 

" An allegory," mused Hillersdon. " My life has been wasting 
rapidly since the night before last. I have been hving faster, two 
heart-throbs for one." 

He breakfasted early after two or three hours of broken sleep, 
and dawdled over his breakfast, taking up one volume after another 
with a painful inability to fix his mind upon any subject, until the 
inexorable church bells began their clangour close at hand, and 
made all thought impossible. 

Then only did he remember that it was Simday morning. He 
changed his coat hurriedly, brushed his hat, and set out for that 
fashionable temple in which Edith Champion was wont to hear the 
eloquent sermons of a " delicate, diUetante, white-handed priest," in 
an atmosphere heavy with Ess bouquet, and the warm breath of 
closely-packed humanity. 

The choir was chanting the " Te Deum " when he went in, and 
secured one of the last rush-bottomed chairs available in the crowded 
nave. His night wanderings had fatigued him more than he knew, 
and he slept profoundly through one of the choicest discourses of 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 51 

the season, and was not a little embarrassed when Mrs. Champion 
and Mrs. Gresham insisted upon discussing every point the preacher 
had made. Happily, both ladies were too eager to state their own 
opinions to discover his ignorance, or to guess that for him that 
thrilling sermon had been as the booming of a bumble bee in the 
heart of an over-blown rose — a soimd of soothing and pleasantness. 

*' He goes to the Eiviera every winter," said Mrs. Champion, 
slipping from the sermon to the preacher ; " he is more popular 
there than in London. You should hear his thrilling denunciation 
of Monte Carlo, and his awful warnings to the people who go 
there. There is hardly standing room in any church where he 
preaches." 

HUlersdon walked ia the Park with the two ladies, patiently 
enduring that customary church parade which always bored him, 
even in Edith Champion's company, and even although his pride 
was stimulated by being seen in attendance upon one of the hand- 
somest women in London. 

The Park looked lovely in the summer noontide, the people were 
smart, weU-dressed, admirable ; but the park and the people were 
the same as last year, and they would be the same nest year — the 
same and always the same. 

" It is the constant revolution stale 
And tasteless, of the same repeated joys, ' 
That palls and satiates, and makes languid life 
A pedlar's pack, that bows the bearer down." 

He dined with Mrs. Champion, and went to a musical party with 
her, and that Sunday seemed to him one of the longest he had ever 
spent, longer even than the Sabbath days of his boyhood, when he 
was allowed to read only good books, and forbidden all transactions 
with rat-catchers and ferrets. 

He was glad when he had handed Mrs. Champion to her carriage 
under an awning in Grosvenor Place, glad to go back to his bachelor 
loneliness, and impatient of Monday morning. He was up betimes, 
and hurried oflf to Lincoln's Inn Fields as soon as it was reasonable 
to expect Mr. Crafton at his office. He wanted agaia to assure 
himself that Ebenezer Milford's fortime was a reality, and not a 
dream. 

The solicitor received him with unimpaired graciousness, and 
was ready with oifers of assistance in any plans of his client. AU 
that had to be done about the inheritance was in progress ; but as 



52 Gerard ; or, 

all processes of law are lengthy it would be some little time before 
Mr. Hillersdon would be in actual possession of his wealth. 

" The succession duties will be very heavy," said Grafton, shaking 
his head ; and HUlersdon felt that in this respect his was a hard case. 

" Have you communicated with your friend, Mr. Watson ? " the 
lawyer asked presently. 

" No, I forgot to do that." 

" It would be as well that you should look him up at once, and 
test his memory of the occurrence in the railway station," suggested 
Grafton. " His evidence would be very useful in the — most un- 
likely — contingency of any attempt to upset the will." 

This remark had the effect of a douche of cold water upon 
Hillersdon. 

" You don't apprehend " he faltered. 

" No, I have not the slightest apprehension. Poor old Milford 
was an isolated being. If he had any relations I never heard of 
them. But, as a precautionary measure, I advise you to see your 
friend." 

" Yes, yes, I wUl go to him at once," said Hillersdon feverishly, 
getting up and making for the door. 

" There is no need for hurry. Is there nothing that I can do for 
you?" 

" Nothing. I have been thinking of changing my lodgings — but 
that can stand over for a few days. I must see Watson — and then 
I must go down to the country to see my own people. It wouldn't 
do for them to hear of my good luck from any one else. I may tell 
them, I suppose ? I am not likely to find myself thrust out of this 
inheritance after a few weeks' possession ? I am not going to be a 
kind of Lady Jane Grey among legatees ? " 

" No, no ; there is really no danger. The will is a splendid will. 
It would be very difficult for any one to attack it, even the nearest 
blood relation. I have not the slightest fear." 

" Give me your cheque for another five hundred, by way of 
backing your opinion," said Hillersdon, still feverishly, and with a 
shade of fretfulness. 

He was irritated by the mere suggestion that a will is an instru- 
ment that may be impeached. 

" With pleasure," replied Mr. Grafton, ready with his cheque 
book ; " shall I make it a thousand ? " 

" No, no, a monkey will do. I really don't want the money, 
only I like to see you part with it freely. Thanks ; good day." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 53 

His hansom was waiting for him. He told the man to drive to 
the Albany, where he might utilise his call upon Watson by making 
inquiries about any eligible rooms. 

It was early in the day, and Watson was lingering over his break- 
fast, which had been lengthened out by the skimming of half-a- 
dozen morning papers. He had not seen HOlersdon for some time, 
and welcomed him with frank cordiality. 

"What have you been doing with yourself all this time?" he 
asked, as he rang for fresh coffee. " YouVe been moving in Mrs. 
Champion's charmed circle, I suppose, and as her orbit ain't mine 
we don't often meet, and now we do meet I can't compliment you 
on your appearance. You are looking uncommonly seedy." 

"I have been sleeping badly for the last few nights. That's my 
only ailment. Do you remember that evening at Nice when Jyou 
■went to the station with me after the battle of flowers? " 

" And when you picked a churHsh old fellow from the front of an 
advancing engine, and to all intents and purposes saved his life ? 
Of course I remember. A curious old man, that. I believe he 
means to leave you a legacy of some kind. Nineteen pounds nine- 
teen, perhaps, to buy a mourning ring. He was monstrously 
particular in his inquiries about — your name and parentage, and 
usual place of abode. He walked half the length of the Avenue de 
la Gare with me, and he was very much troubled in mind about his 
umbrella." 

" Did he tell you his name ? " 

"He gave me his card at parting, but I lost the card and forgot 
the name." 

" And you really believe that I saved his life ? " 

" I don't think there's the slightest doubt about it. The thing 
was as near as a toucher. I expected to see you killed in an 
unsuccessful attempt to save him." 

" And you would put as much as that in an affidavit, or say as 
much in the witness-box? " 

" In a dozen affidavits, or in a dozen witness-boxes. But why 
these questions ? " 

Hillersdon told him the motive, and the fortune that was at 

Btake. 

" Then the legacy comes to two millions ? " cried Watson. " By 
Jove, you are a lucky fellow, and upon my honour you deserve it ! 
You hazarded your life, and what can any man do more than that, 
and for an unknown traveller. The good Samaritan goes down to 



54 Gerard; or, 

posterity on the strength of a little kindly feeling and twopence. 
You did a great deal more than the Samaritan. Why cannot I 
pluck a shabby Croesus out of the iron way, or rescue a millionaire 
from drowning? Why should this one lucky chance come your 
way and not mine ? You were only ten paces in advance of me 
when the crucial moment came. Well, I won't grumble at your 
good fortune. After all, the accession of one's bosom friend to 
miUions makes one's self no poorer. Yet there is always a feeling 
of being reduced to abject poverty when a friend tumbles into 
unexpected wealth. It will' take me months to reconcile myself to 
the idea of you as a millionaire. And now what are you going to 
do with your life ? " 

" Enjoy it if I can, having the means of enjoyment given me." 

" All that money can do you can do," said Watson, with a 
philosophic air. " You will now have the opportunity of testing 
the power of wealthy its limitations, its strictly finite natiu-e." 

" I will not moan if I find there are some things gold cannot buy," 
said HOlersdon. " There are so many things it can buy which I 
have been wanting all my life." 

" Well, you are a lucky fellow, and you deserve your luck, because 
you did a plucky thing without thought or fear of consequences. If 
you had paused to consider your own peril that old man would 
have been smashed." 

The servant came in with the coffee, a welcome interruption to 
Hillersdon, who was tu-ed of being complimented on his pluck. His 
early breakfast had been only a cup of tea, and he was not sorry to 
begin again with Watson, who prided himself upon living well, and 
was a connoisseur of perigord pies and York hams, and took infinite 
pains to get the freshest eggs and best butter that London could 
supply. 

" Well, you are going to enjoy your life ; that is understood. 
Imprimis, I suppose you will marry ? " said Watson, cheerily. 

" I told you, I meant to enjoy my life," answered Hillersdon. 
" The first element of happiness is Hberty. And you suggest that I 
should start by surrendering it to a wife ? " 

" Oh, that's all bosh. A man with a big income does not lose 
his freedom by taking a wife. In a millionau-e's household a wife 
is only an ornament. She has neither control nor ascendancy over 
his existence. You remember what Beckford said of the Venetian 
nobility at the close of the eighteenth century. Every great man 
in that enchanting city had his secret tabernacle — a snug little nest 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 55 

in the labyrintli of narrow streets, or in some shadowy bend of a 
rio, known only to himself and his intimates, where he might live 
his own Ufe, while his ostensible existence as Grand Seigneur was 
conducted with regal pomp and publicity in his palace on the Grand 
Canal, Do you suppose the Venetian nobleman of that golden age 
was governed by his wife ? " Fas si bete.'" 

"I shall never marry till I can marry the woman I love," 
answered Hillersdon, 

Watson shrugged his shoulders significantly, and went on with 
his breakfast. He knew all about Llrs. Champion, and that romantic 
attachment which had been going on for years, and which seemed 
as hopeless and almost as unprofitable upon Gerard Hillersdon's 
Bide as Don Quixote's worship of Dulcinea del Toboso. Watson, 
who was strictly practical, could not enter into the mind of a man 
who sacrificed his life for a virtuous woman. He could understand 
the other thing — life and honour, fortune and good name, flung at 
the feet of Venus Pandemos. He had seen too much of the influence 
of base women and ignoble love to doubt the power of evil over the 
hearts of men. It was the namby-pamby devotion, this lap-dog 
love, the desire of the moth for the star, in which he could not 
beheve. 

Hillersdon left him in time to catch the Exeter express at 
Waterloo. He had made up his mind that he must no longer keep 
his own people in ignorance of the change in his fortunes. He had 
given the hard-worked father and the long-suS'ering mother too 
much trouble in the past, and now the hour of compensation must 
be no longer delayed. Yes, his father's church should be restored, 
and the dear old tumble-down Rectory renovated from garret to 
cellar without injury to its tumble-downness, which was of all things 
beautiful — a long, low house, with bow windows belljTug out un- 
expectedly; a house so smothered with banksia roses, myrtle, 
flowering ash, and wistaria that it was not easy to discover whether 
its walls were brick or stone, rough-cast or cob. 

It was a relief to Gerard HiUersdon to turniis back upon London, 
to feel that his face was set towards green pastures and summer 
woods, to see the white fleeces of rural sheep instead of the dark- 
lings of the Park, and the froHcs of joyous foals in the meadows 
instead of smart young women bucketting along the Row. 

" God made the coimtry and man made the town," he said to 
himself, quoting a poet whom his father loved and often quoted. 
It was still early in the afternoon when he went in at the open 



56 Gerard ; or, 

gate of the Kectory garden. The estuary of the Exe lay before 
him, with crisp wavelets dancing in the sun. His father's parish 
was midway between Exeter and Exmouth, a place of quietness 
and fertile meadows, gardens brimming over with flowers, thatched 
cottages smothered with roses and honeysuckle, beehives, poultry- 
yards, and all rustic sights and sounds ; a village in which a rector 
is a kind of king, exercising more influence than parliaments and 
potentates afar oS". 

Two girls were playing tennis on the lawn to the right of the 
long low verandah that screened the drawing-room windows, two 
glancing figures in white gowns that caught the sunHght. One he 
knew for his sister Lilian ; the other was a stranger. 

Lilian faced the carriage-drive by which he approached, recognised 
him, flung down her racquet with a joyful exclamation, and ran to 
meet him, heedless of her antagonist, 

"I thought you were never coming near us again," she said, 
when they had kissed. " Mother has been full of anxieties about 
you. It was time you came ; yes, high time, for you are looking 
dreadfully ill." 

" Every one seems bent upon telling me that," he said, with a 
vexed air. 

" You have been ill, I believe, and you never let us know." 
" I am as well as I ever was in my hfe, and I have not been iU 
Two or three bad nights seem to have played havoc with my 
looks." 

" It is the horrid life you lead in London — parties every day and 
every night ; no respite, no repose. I hear of your doings, you see, 
though you so seldom write to any of us. Miss Vere, who is staying 
with me, knows all about you." 

" Then Miss Yere possesses all knowledge worth having — from 
my point of view. I dare say she knows more about me than I 
know of myself. You shall introduce me to her, after I have seen 
my mother." 

"You shall see mother without one moment's waste of time. 
Poor mother, she has so pined for you. Mother," called Lilian, 
addressing her fresh young voice to the verandah, " Mother, come 
out and be startled and dehghted in a breath." 

Gerard and his sister were moving towards the house as ehe 
called. A tall matronly figure emerged from the verandah, and a 
cry of gladness welcomed the prodigal son. In the next minute he 
was clasped to his mother's heart. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 57 

" ]\Iy dearest boy." 

" My ever dear mother," 

" I have been so anxious about you, Gerard." 

"Not "without cause, dear mother. I -was in very low spu-its, 
altogether at odds with fortune a few days ago. But since then 
I have had a stroke of luck. I have come to tell you good 
news." 

" You have written another book," she cried delightfully. 

" Better than that." 

" Nothing could be better than that, to my mind." 

" What would you say if a good old man, whom I only saw once 
in my Hfe, had left me a fortune ? " 

" I should say it was like a fairy tale." 

" It is hke a fairy tale, but I believe it is reality. I beUeve, 
because a London solicitor has advanced me a thousand pounds 
with no better security than my expectations. I have not sold 
my shadow, and I have not accepted the Feau de chagrin. I 
am substantially and realistically rich, and I can do anything in 
the world that money can do to make you and father and Lilian 
happy for the rest of your Hves." 

"You can give me a new racquet," said his sister. "It is a 
misery to play with this, and Barbara has the very latest improve- 
ment in racquets." 

" ' My mother had a maid called Barbara,' " quoted Gerard, 
laughing. " Jliss Vere is your Barbara, I suppose ? " 

He went into the drawing-room with his mother, while Lilian ran 
to apologise to Miss Vere for her sudden desertion. Mother and 
eon sat side by side, hand clasped in hand, and Gerard told her the 
strange history of his altered fortunes. He told her of his debts 
and of his despair, his utter weariness of life ; but he did not tell 
her that he had contemplated suicide ; nor did he fling across her 
simple thoughts the cloudy mysticism which has become a factor in 
modem life. He did not tell her of the scene in Jermyn's chambers, 
or of his vain endeavours to discover the whereabouts of those 
chambers ; nor did he talk to her of Edith Champion, albeit she 
had some inkling of that romantic phase of his life. 

She was enraptured at the thought of his good fortune, without 
one selfish consideration of the prosperity it would bring to her. 
In the midst of her rejoicing she began to talk to him about hi3 
health. 

" You are not looking well, dearest," she said earnestly. " To 



5 8 Gerard ; or^ 

those who love you your health is of far more importance than your 
fortune." 

This harping on an unpleasant strain irritated him. This was 
the third time within the day that he had been told he looked iU. 

" You women are all morbid," he said. " You poison yom- lives 
with unrealised apprehensions. If any one gave you the Koh-i-noor 
you would make yom-selves miserable by the suspicion that it was 
only a bit of glass. You would want to break it up in order to be 
sure of its value. Suppose I have a headache — suppose I have 
had two or three bad nights, and am looking haggard and pale, 
what is that against two millions ? " 

" Two millions ! Oh, Gerard, is your fortune anything like that ? " 
asked his mother, in an awe-stricken voice. 

"I am told that it is very much like that." 

" It sounds hke a dream. There is something awful in the idea 
of such wealth in the possession of one young man. And oh, 
Gerard, think of the thousands and tens of thousands who are 
almost starving." 

"I suppose everybody wiU teU me that," exclaimed her son 
irritably. " "Why should I think of the starving thousands ? Why, 
just because I have the means of enjojang life, am I to make myself 
miserable by brooding upon the miseries of others ? If it comes to 
that a man ought never to be happy while there is a single ill-used 
cab-horse in the world. Just think of all the horses in London and 
Paris that are underfed and overdriven, and have galled shoulders 
and cracked heels. There is madness in it. Think of the iU-treated 
children, the little children, the gutter-martyrs, whose lives are a 
burden. If we are to think of these things our choicest luxuries, 
our most exalted pleasures, must turn to gall and wormwood. For 
every pair of happy lovers there are women in degradation and 
despair, and men whose lightest touch is defilement. If we stop to 
consider how this world we live in — so fuU of exquisite beauty and 
eager, joyous life — is just as full of want and misery and crime, the 
sharp anguish of physical pain, and the duU agony of patient, joyless 
lives, there can be no such thing as pleasure. We must not give 
way to pity, mother. Since we cannot heal all these gaping wounds 
^since there is no possible panacea for the suQerings of a universe, 
we must narrow our thoughts and hopes to the Hmits of home and 
family, and say ' Kismet, Allah is good.' But for you, dearest, for 
you and all whom you want to help, my wealth shall be as potent 
as the four-leaved shamrock. You shall be my almoner. Yoa 



TJie World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 59 

shall find out which among all the never-ending schemes for helping 
the helpless are really good, and sound, and honest, and I will aid 
them with open hand." 

"My dear son, I knew your heart was fiill of pity," murmured 
his mother tenderly. 

"Oh, but I don't want to pity any one. I want you, with your 
clear, calm mmd, to think and act for me. Everybody tells me 
I am looking haggard and iH, now just when life is worth cherishing. 
I want to avoid overmuch agitation. Let us talk of happier things. 
How is the dear governor, or the Eector, as he prefers to be 
called?" 

"He has not been very well of late. Last winter tried him 
severely." 

" He must spend next winter at San Remo or Sorrento. It will 
be only for you both to choose your locality." 

" And I may see Italy before I die," gasped the Rector's wife, 
whose peregrinations hitherto had rarely gone beyond Boscastle on 
the one side and Bath on the other, with a fortnight in London 
once in two years. 

" Yes, you shall see all that is fairest in this world," answered 
Gerard. 

" Your father is spending the day in Exeter. What a delightful 
Burprise for him when he comes home to dinner ! But you must 
not wait for eight o'clock, Gerard. You must have something after 
your journey. Shall I order a chop, or a grilled chicken ? " 

" No, dear mother, I am too happy in your company to want such 
substantial food. I think I saw cups and saucers in the garden, 
under our favourite tree — 

' And thou in all tliy breadth and height 
Of foliage, towering sycamore.' " 

" Oh, Gerard, it is a tulip-tree. Your father would be dreadfully 
offended to hear it called a sycamore. Yes, you shall have some tea, 
dearest." She rang the bell, and ordered new-laid eggs, hot cakes, 
a regular Yorkshire tea, to be taken out to the garden. "What 
happiness to be sitting there with you once again. It is ages since you 
have been with us, except for just that hurried visit last Christmas." 

Gerard sighed as he acknowledged the force of this reproach. 
AH his summers of late years had been spent far afield. In the 
Tyrol, in Scotland, in Sweden, in Westmoreland, at Carlsbad, any- 
where whither Mrs. Champion's caprices or Mr. Champion's " cure " 



6o Gerard ; or, 

led the lady and her satellite. He had enjoj'ed no more inde- 
pendent existence than one of Jupiter's moons, but had been con- 
strained to revolve in the orbit of his planet. 

He went into the garden with his mother. Every shrub was a 
reproach, for all had grown with the growth of years since he had 
seen them in their summer glory, A flying visit at Christmas or 
the New Year had been as much as his goddess allowed him. And 
now — albeit his chain was unbroken — he had a feeling that it was 
lengthened, and that he was going to do as he hked henceforward. 

The stout, comfortable-looking butler, whom he remembered a 
lad in buttons, brought tea, and toasted cakes, and poached eggs, 
and clouted cream, and other rustic luxuries ; and the tennis players, 
who had taken one tea at four o'clock, were very glad to take 
another at six. Gerard was introduced to Miss Vere, otherwise 
Barbara — a girl with a handsome face and a commanding figure, 
but who looked as if she had vecu, Gerard thought, and who at once 
began to talk of the houses at which they had met in London, which 
were all the smartest houses, be it remarked. The young lady sunk 
any lesser mansions at which they might have rubbed shoulders. 

" I think you know Mrs. Champion," Miss Vere remarked inno- 
cently. " She and my cousin, Mrs. Harper, are great chums." 

" Mrs. Theodore Harper ? " 

" Yes, Mrs. Theodore." 

" I know her well, a very pretty woman." 

" Yes, she is by way of being a beauty," said Miss Vere, who was 
much handsomer, and no doubt was fully aware of her superiority ; 
"but don't you think she's rather silly about that boy of hers — 
taking him everywhere ? " 

" Upon that point I consider her positively imbecile. A child in 
an Eton jacket should not be obtruded upon the society of reason- 
able men and women. I believe she only takes him about with her 
in order that people may exclaim, ' Your son, Mrs. Harper? Impos- 
sible ! How could you have a son of twelve years old, when you 
can be at most two and twenty ? ' " 

" And then she smiles — carefully — through her magnolia bloom, 
and is perfectly happy for the rest of the afternoon, while the boy 
Bits turning over illustrated books, and boring himself to death." 

" Or sucldng surreptitious lollipops, till some prosy old Etonian 
goes and sits beside him, and talks about the playing fields and the 
river," said Gerard. 

Lilian and her mother sat smiling at this conversation, happily 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 6i 

nnconscious of its artificiality. Lilian, who was lily-fair and guile- 
less as a child, looked up to Barbara Vere with eyes of admiring 
wonder. Miss Vere's exquisitely fitting gowns, her aplomb, and her 
knowledge of the side scenes of life commanded the vOlage maiden's 
respect. To talk to a girl who had the peerage at her fingers' ends, 
knew to a shade every important person's pohtical opinions, was 
familiar with all the society scandals and all the approaching alli- 
ances, was a privilege for the Kector's daughter. She wondered how 
the brilliant Barbara could endure the jog-trot domesticity of the 
Rectory, and it had never occurred to her that Barbara Vere put in 
for repairs at this quiet little harbour after the wear and tear of her 
annual voyage on the high seas of London society. 

" I feel so fresh and so happy when I am with you," said Barbara. 
•' I leave my French maid and my powder-box in London, and steep 
myself in the atmosphere of Milton's ' Allegro.' " 

She might have added that in this clerical seclusion she did not 
trouble to make up her eyebrows, or to put on just that one artistic 
touch of rouge upon the cheek-bone, which in London drawing- 
rooms gave lustre to her fine dark eyes. Here her hfe was spent for 
the most part in a garden, and she was wise enough to know 
how ghastly all artificial embellishments become under such 
conditions. 



CHAPTER VL 

THE FACE IN THE VISION. 

The little party of four sat long at the tea-table under the leafy 
branches of the tulip-tree. The Rectory garden was on a level 
stretch of ground ; but beyond the shrubbery that girdled lawn and 
parterre, the glebe meadows sloped towards the low, irregular cliil'; 
and below the undulating line of the cliff danced the bright wavelets 
of the estuary. The garden and its surroundings were alike lovely, 
fertile, smiling — not the grand scenery of North Devon, nor the still 
bolder coast-line of North Cornwall, by that steep rock where once 
uprose Tintagcl's crown of towers, but a placid and pastoral region 



62 Gerard ; or, 

which seems to invite restftdness and content with things that be 
rather than soaring aspirations or heroic endeavour. 

Landward of the Rectory garden and orchard there rose a wooded 
hill, whose sununit commanded a fine view of the chaimel. and the 
white-winged ships saiUng away towards Start Point. That hill, 
with its wood and coppice, had been Gerard's dehght in the summer 
holidays of boyhood. He had read there in his long vacations — and 
there were spots which to. this hour recalled certain passages in 
Homer and VirgU, and certain difficulties in higher mathematics. 

He thought of that far-off time as he sat, sipping a third oup of 
tea, in a dreamy mood, after having done scanty justice to the 
plethora of rustic fare. The two girls had gone indoors, leaving 
mother and son tete-a-tete, Mrs. Hiilersdon sitting sUent, plying those 
busy needles which knitted socks for half the old men and children 
in the parish, and Gerard lost in reverie. He was the first to break 
the silence. 

" Mother, I saw a face the other day which reminded me of home 
— and of — ever so many years ago — five or six years, at least — and 
yet I can't associate the face with any one in this parish. I can't 
tell you how familiar it seemed, or how I have worried my brains 
to find out where and how I saw it." 

" A man's face, or a woman's ? " 

" A girl's face— or rather say the face of a woman of three or 
four and twenty — a woman in humble life. It must have been one 
of your cottagers, but I can't identify her. It is a very lovely face." 

''But where did you see this young woman? Why didn't you 
question her ? " 

" The face flashed upon me and was gone. There was no time 
for asking questions. I want you to help me, if you can. So lovely 
a face must have made some impression upon you. Think of the 
prettiest girls you have known in this village and the surrounding 
neighbourhood." 

" There are so many pretty girls. Devon is famous for "beauty- 
A good many of the cottagers about here have given me their 
photographs. People are very fond of being photographed now that 
the luxury is bo cheap. I have an album that I keep on purpose 
for my parish friends. You can look through it this evening, if you 
like, and see if you can identify your young woman." 

" She would not be one among a herd," Gerard answered irritably. 
" I know what Devonian beauty means — bright blue eyes, fine car- 
nations. This girl is utterly unlike the type. Surely you can 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 63 

remember a girl of exceptional beauty, with whom we had some 
kind of association any time within the last ten years, but whom I 
must have seen seldom, or I should be able to identify her." 

"Exceptional beauty!" repeated Mrs. Hillersdon, thoughtfully. 
*' I can recall nobody in the parish whom I should call exceptionally 
beautiful. But men have such odd notions about beauty. I have 
heard a girl with a snub nose and a wide mouth extolled as if she 
were Venus. Why are you so anxious to know more about this 
young woman ? " 

" I have reason to think she is in distress, and I should like to 
help her — now that I am rich enough to do foolish things," 

" It would not be fooKsh if she is a good girl — but beware of 
exquisite beauty in humble life, Gerard. It would make me 
miserable if " 

" Oh, my dear mother, we have all read ' David Copperfield.' I 
am not going to imitate Steerforth in his treatment of httle Emily. 
I am mystified about this girl, and I want to learn who she is and 
whence she came." 

" Not from this parish, Gerard, I am sure, unless you can find her 
in my album." 

" Let me see your album, this minute," cried Gerard. 

The parlourmaid approached as he spoke, and began to clear the 
tea-table. 

" Bim to my room and bring me the big brown photograph 
album," said Mrs. Hillersdon, and the brisk young parlourmaid 
tripped away and presently returned with a brown quarto which 
had seen long service. Gerard turned the leaves eagerly. He 
beheld a curious collection of old-fashioned finery, mushroom hats, 
crinolines. Garibaldi shirts, festoons, flounces, and Mariafolds, polo- 
naises, jackets, mantles, of every style that has been worn within 
the last thirty years — old men and maidens, fathers, mothers, 
chUdren, babies in abundance. 

There were plenty of pretty faces — faces which even the rustic 
photographer could not spoU ; but there was not one which offered 
the faintest resemblance to the face he had seen in Justin Jermyn's 
chambers. 

" No ! " he exclaimed, flinging the book upon the table in disgust, 
" there is no sign of her among your bumpkins." 

"Please don't sneer at my bumpkins. You don't know what 
good, bright, patient, hardworking creatures there are among them, 
or how proud I am to know that they are fond of me." 



64 Gerard ; or, 

" The girl I saw has an ethereal face — not flesh, but spirit^ 
dreaming eyes, kr§e and soft, shadowed by long dark lashes — fair 
hair, not golden, mark you — but distinctly fair, a pale soft brown, 
like the coat of a fallow deer. Her features are exquisitely deUcate, 
modelling of nose and chin like a Madonna by EaffaeUe — yes, it is 
a Raffaelle face, so soft in colouring, so spiritual — but sad, unutter- 
ably sad." 

".Hester Davenport," exclaimed Mi's. Hillersdon, suddenly. 
" You have described her to the life. Poor girl. "Where did you 
meet her? I thought she was in Australia." 

" Perhaps only in a dream. But who is Hester Davenport? " 

" Don't you remember the cm^ate, Nicholas Davenport, the man 
whom your father engaged without adequate scrutiny into antece- 
dents or character, on the strength of his fine manner and appear- 
ance, and his evident superiority to the common run of Churchmen 
— a man of great theological learning, your father told me ? He 
had been tutor to Lord Eaynfield's son — in Cumberland — and he 
gave your father a letter of recommendation from Lord Raynfield, 
dated some seven years before he came to us. You know how 
unsuspicious your father is. It never occurred to him that the 
man's character might have changed since that letter was written. 
He was with us a year and a half, and towards the end of that time 
his daughter came from Hanover, where she had been sent for a 
year or so to learn German. "We were all struck with her beauty 
and sweet gentle manners." 

" Yes, yes, I remember now. I was at home when she arrived. 
How could I forget ? She came to tea with Lilian one afternooa 
■when I was loafing about the garden, and I talked to her for five 
minutes or so, not more, for I had to hurry off to catch the train 
for Exeter. I saw her once after that — met her on the sands one 
morning. Yes, the face comes back to me as it was then — ^in all 
the freshness of girlhood." 

" She was only seventeen when she came from Germany." 

" And Davenport went wrong, turned out an incorrigible drunkard, 
did he not ? " 

"Yes; it was unspeakably sad. He used to have occasional 
lapses — never during his church work — but when he was about in 
the parish. He told your father that he suflered from slight attacks 
of epilepsy ; so slight as to be of no hindrance to his duty. This 
went on for over a year, and then, on AU Saints' Day, he had an 
attack in the reading-desk — a lapse of consciousness as your father 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 65 

called it. He seemed very strange. We were puzzled — but none 
of us guessed the dreadful truth, till one Sundaj^ evening, about a 
month after his poor daughter came home from Germany, he went 
up into the pulpit, reeling, and clutching at the balustrade, and 
began to preach in the wildest language, uttering dreadful blasphe- 
mies, and bursting into hysterical laughter. Your father had to go 
up into the pulpit with one of the churchwardens and bring him 
down by main force. He was perfectly mad; but it was drink, 
Gerard, drink, that had caused all the evil. He had been taking 
brandy or chloral for years — sometimes one, sometimes the other. 
He was a secret drinker — that learned, intellectual man, a man who 
had taken the highest honours at Oxford, a man whom Oxford men 
remembered as a hght among them." 

" What became of him after that ? " 

" He had to leave us, of course, and as your father dared not 
recommend him to anybody, and as the scandal of his behaviour 
had been heard of throughout the diocese, there was no hope of his 
getting any further employment in the Church. Your father was 
very sorry for him, and gave him a little money to help him to 
emigrate. His old pupil. Lord Wolverley, helped him, and old 
college friends contributed, and he and his daughter sailed for 
Melbourne. I went to Plymouth to see them off, for I was very 
eony for the poor motherless girl, in her deep distress, and your 
father and others wanted to be sure that they really got oflf, as 
Davenport was a shifty kind of man, and might have let the ship 
sail without him. They went out in a sailing vessel, crowded with 
first, second, and third-class emigrants. They went second-class, 
and I can see her now as I saw her that day, standing in the bows 
with her hand through her father's arm, while he waved his hand- 
kerchief to me. She was white and wan, poor child, but exquisitely 
loveh'. I could not help thinking of what her life might have been 
if she had had good and prosperous parents ; yet I know she adortd 
that unhappy father." 

" Exquisitely lovely, yes," mused Gerard, " and going out to a 
new world in an emigi-aut ship, and with a di-unken old man for her 
only guardian and stay. A hard fate for exquisite loveliness, is it 
not, mother ? And now, I believe she is in London, working at a 
sewing-machine for starvation wages." 

"But how came you to learn so much, and yet not to know 
more?" 

" Did I not tell you that it was a dream ? " he asked, with a 

K 



66 Gerard ; or, 

mocking smile! "But I mean to know more, mother; I mean to 
find this girl by hook or by crook, and to help her ! " 

"You must not mix yourself in her life, Gerard," said Mrs. 
Hillersdon, gravely ; " that might end badly." 

" Oh, mother, you are full of fears ! One would think I were 
Mephistopheles, or Faust ; while all I want is that my money may 
be of some use to a friendless girl. Hester Davenport ! I remember 
how lovely I thought her, but I was no more in love with her than 
with the Venus of the Capitol. Strange that I should have failed 
to identify the face, till you helped me ! " 

He went indoors with his mother, and found his room — the room 
which had been his ever since he left the nursery — ready for 
occupation. The old nursemaid, whom he had teased and joked 
with in the old Marlborough hohdays, had bustled and hurried to 
get Mr. Gerard's room aired and dusted, and his portmanteau 
unpacked, and all things arranged before the di-essing-bell rang out 
from the old wooden cupola that crowned the low roof. Everything 
had the odour he knew so well — a perfume of lavender and dried 
rose leaves, mixed with some strange Indian scent which was an 
inheritance from his mother's side of the house, her people ha\'ing 
been civilians of good standing in Bengal for half a century. It was 
a curious composite perfume, which for him meant the atmosphere 
of home, and brought back memories of childhood. 

The Rector received the news of his son's altered fortunes at first 
with incredulity, and then with gladness mingled with awe. 

" The whole business seems too wonderful to be true, Gerard," 
he said; " but if it really is true, you are just the luckiest fellow I 
ever heard of — to inherit an old man's wealth without ever having 
cringed to him or fawned upon him while he was alive — to receive 
two milUons sterling, without having to say thank you, except to 
Providence ! " 

The Rector was by no means a selfish man, and he had been an 
indulgent father, bearing \vith a good deal of extravagance and some 
perversity on the part of his son, but he was not slow to see that 
this fortune must needs mean comfort and luxury for him in liia 
declining years, and a freedom from financial cares which would 
be new to himself and his wife, liberally as the. Rectory was 
administered. His living was worth seven hundred a year, and he 
and his wife between them had about four hundred of independent 
income ; and it is not easy for a man of good family and with reiined 
tastes to live within an income of eleven hundred a year; especially 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 67. 

■when he is rector of a rural parish in which the lower orders look 
to him for aid in all their necessities, while the surrounding gentry 
expect him to play an equal part in all their sports and hospitaUties. 

Gerard stayed with his people just two daj's. That was as much 
time as he could spare for inaction, since there was upon him the 
natural restlessness of a man whose fortunes have undergone a 
Budden and wondrous change, and who is eager to put newly acquired 
power to the test. Father, mother, and sister would gladly have 
kept him longer in that rural paradise, and Barbara Vere, havin"- 
got wind of his inheritance, exercised all her blandishments, her 
spells of woven paces and of weaving hands, to bind him to her 
side. Garden, and hiUs, and rustic lanes, and summer sea, were all 
suggestive of restfulness and oblivion of the busy world ; — but a 
young man who has just come into a fortune is no more to be 
satisfied with indolence in a garden than Eve was. He too, like 
Eve, longs to taste the fruit of the fatal tree. 

" I have seen what life is like to a man who never has a spare 
five-poimd note," Gerard told his sister; "I want to find out how 
life tastes to a millionaire. And when I have furnished rooms or 
a house, and have settled down a Httle, you must come and keep 
house for me, Lilian " 

"Nonsense, dearl You will be marrying before the year is 
out," 

" I have no idea of marrying. There is nothing so unlikely aa 
my marriage. You shall be mistress of my house." 

" I couldn't leave mother — at least, not for ever so long," said 
Lilian. 

"Li years to come she will need you more than she needs 
you now. I begin to understand you, Lilian. That tall, LU- 
looking curate — Mr. Cumberland — has something to do with your 
hesitations." 

" Do you think him so very ugly ? " asked Lilian, with a distressed 
look. 

" I didn't say very ugly ; but I certainly don't think him hand- 
some. That knotted and bulging brow means brains, I suppose." 

" He was fifth wrangler, and he is a splendid musician," said his 
sister. " X wish you would stop till Sunday to hear what he has 
made of the choir." 

■' If he has made them sing in tune he must be a wonderful man. 
And so he is the person whose merits and fortunes arc to colour your 



68 Gerard ; or, 

future, Lilian. I had no idea of it when I saw him hanging over 
your piano last night. I thought he was only a pis-aller. I suppose 
he is just the type of man girls in country parsonages admire — 
tall, athletic, with fine eyes, and dark overhanging brows, large 
strong hands, thick wavy hair, and a powerful baritone voice. I 
can quite understand your liking Mr. Cumberland ; but what does 
the governor think of it all ? " 

" Father does not mind," Lilian answered naively. " Jack is of 
very good family, but he will have to get a living before we are 
married." 

" He shall have a living — if he is worthy of my sister," said 
Gerard. " Money will buy livings — he shall be a pluralist if be 
likes." 

" Oh, Gerard, he is the last man to like that. He has such a 
strong idea of duty. He would like a big parish in a sea-port, I 
think, with plenty of work. His best gifts are wasted in such a 
place as this, but all our people adore him. Father owns that he 
never had such a helper." 

" My sweet enthusiast, we will look out for a big sea-port. You 
t^hall be a ministering angel to sailors and sailors' wives — you shall 
temper the cruelties of life in a crowded city — and, perhaps, by 
way of reward I shall hear some day that my sister's husband has 
been struck down by a malignant fever and that she has done herself 
to death while nursing him." 



CHAPTER Vn. 



"it is an- oath," she said. 



Gerard went back to London, but eager as he was to return he 
felt a pang of regret as he bade his mother good-bye in the fresh 
early morning, and turned his face towards the gi-eat city. His brief 
visit to the old home had been an interval of rest in a life that lately 
liad been all unrest. He fancied that peau de chagrin could hardly 
liave shrunk by a hair's breadth during those hours of calm affection, 
of interchange of thought and feeling, without vehemence or excite- 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 69 

ment. To go back to IVIrs. Champion and her set was like going 
back to the crust of a volcano. The rage of spending was upon 
him. He wanted to do something with the money which he had 
scarcely dared to calculate. He drove straight from Waterloo 
Station to Lincoln's Inn, and went through the schedule of his 
possessions with Mr. Cranberry, who was a little, dry old man, like 
the Princess Ida's father, and had none of the prestige and unctuous- 
iiess of his junior partner Mr. Crafton. One could divine easily that 
while Mr. Crafton Uved in a handsome " place " at Surbiton, grew 
pines and peaches, and prided himself upon his stable and garden, 
Mr. Cranberry was content with a dingy house in one of the Blooms- 
bury Squares, and restricted his pride of life to a few Dutch pictures, 
a good plain cook, and a cellar of comet port and old East Indian 
sherry. 

From this gentleman Gerard Hillersdon elicited — together with 
much detail — the main fact that his capital, in and out of the bank- 
ing-house of Milford and Co., summed up to a little over two millions, 
and might be taken to yield an average four and a half per cent., 
whereby his annual income amounted to ninety thousand pounds. 

His cheek paled at the mere mention of the sum. It was too 
much undoubtedly, almost an evil thing to acquire such riches with 
a suddenness as of an earthquake or an apoplectic stroke. The 
magnitude of his wealth overawed him ; and yet he had no desire 
to lessen it by any large act of benevolence or philanthropy. He 
had no inclination to give the London slums another breathing 
ground, or to sink a hundred thousand poimds upon a block of 
dwelHngs for the abjects of the great city. He was at once scared 
and elated. 

" Let me have a few thousands immediately," he said ; " open an 
account for me at Milford's bank. Let me feel that I am rich ! " 

" It shall be done," said Mr. Cranberry ; and then he explained 
that there were certain formalities to be gone through, which could 
be completed without delay, if his chent would give his mind to tlie 
business. 

The two men di-ove round to the bank together. Cranberry 
opened his chent's account with his own cheque for five thousand 
pounds, and a clerk handed Mr. Hillersdon a cheque-book. His 
first act on returning to his lodgings was to write a cheque for a 
tliousand pounds, payable to the Rev. Edward Hillersdon, and this 
he enclosed in a brief scrawl to his mother : 

" Ask the Rector to buy Lilian a new pony to replace poor Tiny 



70 Gerard ; or, 

Tim, who has taken to stumbling rather badly," he wrote, " and beg 
him to do just what he likes with the rest of the money. I shall 
send 3'ou my little gift upon your birthday next week. Alas 1 I let 
the date slip by last year, unmarked by so much as a card." 

It was too late to begin his search for a new domicile that after- 
noon, so he called on Mrs. Champion, who had gone to Charing 
Cross Station to meet her husband on his return from the Continent, 
and then he went on to the pretty little Sensorium, with its old- 
fashioned low-ceiled rooms, and bow windows looking into Birdcage 
Walk, and there he took tea with Eoger Larose, who was generally 
to be found there at tea-time. 

" I hear you have come into a fortune," said Larose, with his 
easy languor. "You have been trjnng to keep the fact dark, I 
know, but these things always ooze out." 

"Who told you?" 

" Nobodj\ It is in the air. I think I read a paragraph in the 
Hesperus. There are always paragraphs. I congi-atulate you upon 
your wealth. Is it much '? " 

" Yes ; it is a good deal. My old friends needn't be afraid of 
borrowing a few pounds of me when they are hard up." 

" Thanks, my dear Gerard. I will bear it in m.ind. And what 
are you going to do ? Shall you really be content to hve among us, 
and know us still ? " 

" The world and the people I know are quite the best world and 
people I have ever imagined; only I mean to have pleasant sur- 
roundings. Give me your counsel, Larose, as an architect and a 
man of taste. Shall I have chambers in the Albany, or a house and 
garden of my own ? " 

" A house, by all means ! The Albany is old-fashioned ; it savours 
of Pelhara and Coningsby. You must have a house near the south 
side of Hyde Park, — a house in a walled garden. There are few 
Buch houses left now, and yours will be fabulously dear. That, of 
course, is a necessity. You must get an R.A. to decorate your walls. 
The President won't do it, but you must have an R.A." 

" Thanks, I have my own ideas about decoration and furniture." 

"And you don't want an R.A.? Extraordinary young man I 
However, your garden will be the grand point,— a garden in which 
you can entertain, a garden in which you can breakfast or dine 
tete-a-tete with your chosen friend, or with the select few. In 
London there is nothing hke a garden for distinction. The costli- 
ness of it always tells. Sit down and write to a house-agent at 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 71 

once : some one near the Park. Messrs. Barley and Mennet ? Yes, 
they will do. Tell them exactly what you want." 

The letter was written at Larose's dictation — a house of such 
and such elevation ; between Knightsbridge and the Albert Hall ; 
stabling ample, but not too near the house ; garden of at least an 
acre indispensable. 

Messrs. Barley and Mennet's answer came by the eleven o'clock 
post on the following morning. They were pleased to state that 
by a happy conjunction of events — namely, the sudden death 
of a client, and his widow's withdrawal to the Continent — they 
had now at their disposal just such a house and grounds as Mr, 
HiUersdon required. Such houses, Messrs. B. and M. begged to 
remind ^"ix. H., were seldom in the market ; they were as precious 
and as rare in their line as the Koh-i-noor or the Pitt diamond. 
The price asked for the beneficial lease of seventy-three and a 
quarter years was thirty thousand pounds, a very reasonable amount 
under the circumstances. The annual ground rent was two hundred 
and fifty pounds. The auctioneers enclosed a card to view, and 
HiUersdon set ofif at once, eager to see if the house realised their 
description. When he found hunself in Piccadilly he thought he 
would ask Edith Champion to go and look at the house with him. 
The attention would please her, no doubt; and he had a vague 
feeling of remorse on her account, as if — although he had called 
on her yesterday — he had neglected her. Certainly under the old 
conditions he would have gone back to Hertford Street in the 
evening, instead of wandering from theatre to music-hall, and from 
music-hall to post-midnight club, with Roger Larose. 

There were two carriages, a victoria and a pair-horse brougham, 
standing before Mr. Champion's house : a curious circumstance at 
that early hour. It occurred to Gerard that they looked like 
doctors' carriages, and the idea struck him with a sudden dread. 
Could anything evU have happened? Covdd she, whom he last 
saw splendid in health and beauty, have been stricken with sudden 
illness ? 

He asked the servant who answered his ring if Mrs. Champion 
was ill. 

"No, sir, not Mrs. Champion," the man answered promptly; 
"Mr. Champion came 'ome out of 'ealth, and there's been two 
doctors with 'im for the last 'arf-hour. Will you step up to the 
drawing-room, sir ? My mistress is in the libery with the doctors, 
but I dare say she'll see you presently." 



72 Ge^'ard ; or, 

" Yes, I'll wait. I hope Mr. Champion is not seriously ill ? " 

"No, sir. Only a general derangement, I believe. He has 
been complaining for some time. Master is getting on in years, 
you see, sir," added the butler, with the privilege of an upper 
servant. 

Getting on in years ? Yes, James Champion was no doubt upon 
the downward slope of the hill, but until this moment Gerard had 
never thought of him as mortal, as a factor that might some day 
vanish out of the sum of Edith's life. The man seemed fenced 
round and protected by his wealth, and no more subject to sickness 
or death than a money-bag. 

He was shown into the drawing-room, where the palms and 
flowers and innumerable prettinesses scattered about the tables 
were dimly seen in the tempered hght. No broad sunshine ever 
glared into Mrs. Champion's rooms. Only under the lower edge 
of the festooned silken blinds was the brightness of the summer day 
allowed to filter tlu-ough a screen of yellow marguerites that quivered 
and glanced in the noon-day hght. 

Gerard had the room to himself for nearly twenty minutes by the 
clock, and was beginning to lose patience, and to contemplate 
departure, when the portiere was pushed aside and Edith Champion 
came into the room, dressed in a white muslin breakfast-gown, and 
with a face that matched her gown. 

She came slowly towards him, as he advanced to meet her, 
looking at him with a curious earnestness. 

" How pale you are 1 " he said. " I was shocked to hear that Mr. 
Champion was ill. I hope it is nothing serious ? " 

" It is serious ; very serious ! " she said, and then she put up her 
hands before her face, and tears streamed from between her jewelled 
fingers. " I am thinking how good he has been to me — how liberal, 
how indulgent, and how httle I have ever done for him in return," 
she said, with unaifected emotion. " I am full of remorse when I 
think of my married life." 

" My dear Edith," he said, taking her hand; " indeed you wi'ong 
yourself. You have done nothing of which you need be ashamed." 

" 1 have always tried to think that, on my knees in church," she 
said. " I have taught myself to believe that there was no guilt in 
my life. Indeed, it seemed blameless compared with the lives of 
women I know ; women with whom tlie world finds no fault. But 
I know now that I have been a wicked wife." 

'•I3ut, Edith," returning naturally to the Imbit of a former time 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 73 

in his compassion for her grief, "you have never failed in your 
duiy. There has been no shame in our friendship. It was natural 
that you and I, -who are young, and who were once lovers, should 
take pleasure in each other's society. Mr. Champion has seen us 
together ; he has never suspected evU." 

'• Xo ; he is utterly without jealousy or suspicion. Perhaps that 
is because he has never really cared for me," she said, as if reason- 
ing with herself. "But he has been always kind and indulgent, 
ready to gratify my h'ghtest whim. And now I feel that I have 
been cold and ungrateful, indifferent to his feelings and inclinations, 
going my OAvn way in blind self-indulgence." 

" My dear Edith, be assured this remorse is imcalled-for. You 
have been an excellent wife for Mr. Champion, who — who is not 
an emotional person, and would be only bored by a romantic 
aflection. But is the case really so bad ? Is your husband danger- 
ously ill?" 

'' The case is hopeless. He cannot live long — perhaps a year, 
at most two years. He has known for some time that he was out 
of health. He consulted a doctor in Bnissels, who rather scared 
liim by his hints of eviL He came home out of sphits, verv 
desponding about himself, and last night he sent for his doctor, 
and arranged a consultation with a specialist for this morning. 
Both doctors have been with me, telUng me much more than thev 
dared tell my husband. They have spoken fair words to him, poor 
dear man, but they have told me the truth. He cannot last more 
than two years. AH that their science can do, all that healing 
springs and mountain air, and severe regimen, and careful nursing 
can do, is to spin out the weak thread of life for a year or two at 
most. He is only fifty-nine, Gerard, and he has toUed hard for his 
wealth. It seems cruel for him to be taken away so soon." 

''Death is always cruel," Gerard answered vaguely. "I never 
thought of Mr. Champion as a man hkely to die before the Scrip- 
tural three-score and ten." 

" Nor I," said Edith. " God knows, I have never calculated upon 
his death." 

There was a silence, as they sat side by side, her pale cheeks wet 
with tears, her hands clasped upon her knee, he sorely embarrassed, 
feeling all that was painful in their position, 

'' Is it true about this fortune of yours ? " she asked, after a long 
pause. 

"Yes, the thing is a reality. I am beginning to believe in it 



74 Gerard ; or, 

myself. I came to you this morning to ask you to help me choose 
a house." 

" You are going to take a house ! " she exclaimed. " That means 
vou are sroing to be married." 

"Nothing of the kind. Why should not a bachelor, -who can 
afford it, amuse himself by creating a home and a fireside ? " 

" Oh, I am afraid, I am afraid," she murmured. " I know all the 
Avomen -will run after you. I know how desperate they are when 
a rich marriage is the prize for which they are competing. Gerard, 
I think you have cared for me always — a little — in all these 
years." 

" You know that I have been your slave," he answered. " With- 
out any pretensions that could wrong Mr. Champion, I have gone 
on blindly adoiing you— as much your lover as I was before you 
jilted me." 

"Oh, Gerard, I was not a jilt. I was made to marry Mr. 
Champion. You can't imagine what influences are brought to bear 
upon a girl who is the youngest member of a large family — the 
preaching of mother and father, and aunts and uncles, and worldly- 
wise cousins, and elder sisters. It is the constant dropping that 
wears out a stone, the everlasting iteration. They told me I should 
spoil your life as well as ray own. They painted such awful pictures 
of our future — cheap lodgings — exile — and then perhaps the work- 
house — or worse, even — suicide. I thought of that picture in 
Frith's ' Road to Ruin ' — the wretched husband alone in a garret, 
preparing to shoot himself. Gerard, I thought of you ruined and 
penniless like that man, contemplating suicide." 

Gerard smiled curiously, remembering how only a few days ago 
he had contemplated, and even resolved, upon that last act in the 
tragedy of failm-e. 

Edith Champion had risen in her agitation, and was moving rest- 
lessly about the room. She turned suddenly in her pacing to and 
fro, and came towards Gerard, who had taken up his hat and stick 
preparatory to departure. 

" Tell me once more that you do not mean to marry — ^yet awhile," 
she said, with feverish intensity. 

" Believe me, there is nothing further from my thoughts." 

" And j'ou are not weary of me ? I am still as much to you as I 
was years ago when we were engaged ? " 

" You are and have been all the world to me since first we met," 
be answered tenderlv. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 75 

" Then you can promise me something, Gerard. If that is true — 
if I am indeed your only love — it cannot hurt you to promise," she 
faltered, drawing nearer to him, laying a tremulous hand upon his 
shoulder, and looking at him with teaiful eyes. 

" To promise what, dearest ? " 

" That you will not marry any one else — that you will wait till — 
till I am free. Oh, Gerard, don't think me cruel because I count 
upon that which must be. I mean to do my duty to my husband ; 
I mean to be a better wife to him than I have ever been ; less 
selBsh, less given over to worldly pleasures, luxury, and show — 
more thoughtful of him and his comfort. But the end must come 
before very long. The doctors told me to be prepared. It may 
come soon and suddenly — it must come before I am two years 
older. 1 shall not be an old woman even then, Gerard," she said, 
smiling through her tears, knowing herself hLs junior by a year or 
so, " and I hope I shall not be an ugly woman. Will you promise 
to wait ? " 

" WilHngly, Edith, were the years ten instead of two." 

" Will you promise ? " 

"Yes, I promise." 

"It is an oath," she said, " Say that you will be true to me by 
all you hold most sacred in this world and the next, as you are a 
man of honour." 

"As I am a man of honour, I will marry you, and none other. 
Will that satisfy you ? " 

" Yes, yes ! " she cried hysterically ; " I am content. Nothing 
else would have given me peace. I have been tormenting myself 
ever since I heard of your fortune. I hated the poor old man whose 
gratitude enriched you. But now I can be at rest ; I can trust 
implicitly in your honour. I can trust you now, Gerard, and I can 
do my duty to my husband, undisturbed by cares and anxieties 
about the future. We shall not meet so often as we have done 
perhaps. I shall go less into society ; my life will be less frivolous, 
but you will still be Vami de la maison, won't you ? I shall see 
you oftener than any one else ? " 

" You shall see me as often as you and Mr. Champion choose to 
invite me. But tell me more about him. Is it the heart that is 
wrong ? " 

" Oh, it is a complication — weak heart, over-worked brain, gouty 
tendency, and other complications. You know how strong he looks, 
what a solid block of a man. Well, he is like a citadel that baa 



76 Gerard ; or, 

been long undermined, which may fall at any time, perhaps without 
warning, or may crumble slowly, inch by inch. The doctors told 
me much that I could not understand, but the main fact is only too 
clear. He is doomed." 

" Does he know? Have they told him ? " 

"Not half what they told me. He is not to be alarmed. Most 
of the evil has arisen from over-work — the strain and fever of the 
race for wealth — and while he has been wasting his life in the effort 
to make money, I have been spending it, oh, how recklessly ! I am 
full of remorse when I think that I have been spending, not money, 
but my husband's life." 

" My dear Edith, it is his metier, his one amusement and desire 
to make money, and as for your extravagance, it has been 
after his own heart. A less costly wife would not have suited 
him." 

"Yes, that is quite true. He has always encouraged me to 
spend money. But it is sad, all the same. He did not know 
that money meant his heart's blood. It has been going drop by 
drop." 

" We spend our lives as we live them, Edith," Gerard answered 
gloomily. "All strong passion means so much loss. We cannot 
live intensely and yet live long. You know Balzac's story, ' La 
Peau de Chagi-in.' " 

" Yes, yes ; a tembly sad story." 

" Only an allegory, Edith. We are all living as Raphael de 
Valentine lived, although we have no talisman to mark the waste of 
our years. Good-bye. You wiU come and help me to choose my 
house, in a few days, will you not? " 

" Yes, in a few days. When I have recovered from the shock of 
this morning." 

He went out into the broad bright sunshine, agitated, but by no 
means unhappy. 

It was a relief to see the end of that dubious and not altogether 
delightful road along which he had been travelling, that primrose 
path of dalliance which had seemed to lead no whither. 

He had pledged himself for life, as surely as if he had vowed the 
marriage vow before the altar, or allowed himself to be booked and 
docketted in a registrar's oflice. For a man of honour there could 
be no retreat from such a vow. Nothing but shame or dc-ath could 
cancel the promise he had given. But he had no regret for having 
BO promised. He had no foreshadowing of future evil. He had 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, jj 

only confirmed iy a vow the bondage into which he had entered 
years ago, when all life lay new and untried before him. This 
woman was still to him the dearest of all women, and he was willing 
to be bound to her. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

A SHADOW ACROSS THE PATH. 

The house-agents had been more truthful than their kind are wont 
to be, and the house which Mr. Hillersdon had been invited to 
inspect more nearly reahsed thek description than houses generally 
do. Of course it was not aU that he wanted ; but it possessed 
capabilities ; and it stood in grounds which are becoming daily 
more difficult to find on the south side of Hyde Park. It was an 
old house, and somewhat dismal of aspect, the garden being shut in 
bv hio-h walls, and overshadowed by timber ; but Gerard was pleased 
with that air of seclusion which would have repelled many people, 
and he saw ample scope for improvement in both house and grounds. 
He closed with the owner of the lease on the following day ; and he 
had Roger Larose at work upon plan and specification without an 
hour's delay. The house belonged to the period when all fa5ades 
of important houses were Italian, and Gerard insisted upon the 
Italian idea being strictly earned out in the improved front and 
added wings. 

'' Let there be no mixture of styles," he said, " that is anathema 
maranatha in my mind. Above all, be neither Flemish nor 
Jacobean — the school has been overdone. Let your portico bo 
li^ht and graceful, yet severe ; and give me a spacious loggia upon 
the first floor, between your new wings, which will consist each of 
a sinf^le room — billiard-room on one side and music-room on the 

other. 

The delighted Larose assured his client that the Italian school 
was his passion, and that he, too, was weary of the oriels and bay.-^, 
the tun-ets and angles, cupolas and quaintness of the flamboyant 
Flemish, miscalled Queen Anne. He took his designs to Mr 



yS Gerard ; or, 

Hillersdon within twenty-four hours after their inspection of the 
premises, and the new front and wings looked charming upon paper. 
There was no question of competition, which would involve delay. 
Gerard begged that the designs might be given to the best builder 
in Loudon, and earned out with the utmost rapidity compatible with 
good work. 

" I must have everything finished before November," be said. 

Roger Larose urged that it was hardly possible that two large 
rooms, and a new fagade, with portico, loggia, and classic pediment, 
to say nothing of various minor improvements, could be completed 
in so short a time. 

" Nothing is impossible to a man of energy, with ample funds at 
his disposal," answered Gerard. " If your plans cannot be carried 
out in four months, my dear Larose, they are useless, and I will 
occupy the house as it now stands." 

The commission was too good to be lost, and Larose promised to 
achieve the impossible. 

" I don't believe such a thing was ever done before, except for 
Aladdin," he said. 

" Consider me Aladdin, if you like ; but do what I want." 

The garden was Gerard's own peculiar care. The landscape 
gardener whom he called in wanted to cut down at least half the 
trees — limes and chestnuts of more than a century's growth — upon 
the pretence that they darkened the house, and that a smooth lawn 
and geometrical flower beds were to be preferred to spreading 
branches under which no turf could live. Gerard would not sacrifice 
a tree. 

" You will lay down fresh turf early in April every year," he 
Baid, " and with care we must make it last till the end of July." 

The nurseryman booked the order, and felt that this was a 
customer who deserved his best consideration. 

" And you will supply me with palms and orange trees, standard 
rhododendrons, and other ornamental plants every season. It will 
be your business to see that they do well while the season lasts." 

" Exactly, sir, I perfectly understand your views. The lawn is 
considerably contracted by that beit of timber, but we can make a 
fine show of oranges in tubs, standard rhododendrons, and hardy 
palms in the portico and on the lawn, and you will retain your 
lime grove, which is, no doubt, an enjoyable feature of the grounds, 
a remarkable feature in grounds so near London." 

For the furni^^hiI)g of liis house IMr. Hillersdon consulted the man 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 79 

who had dictated her taste to Mrs. Champion. The source of a 
lady's taste and knowledge becomes forgotten after a year or two, 
and she takes credit to herself for having evolved her surroundings 
for her inner consciousness. But on being asked about her views 
as to furniture, Mrs. Champion suggested the employment of Mr. 
Callander, a gentleman who made it his business to create homes of 
taste for those who could aSord to carry out his ideal. 

" One has ideas of one's own, of course," said Edith Champion. 
" I was full of original ideas for my drawing-rooms and morning- 
room, but I found it very difficult to get them carried out. Trades- 
people are so stupid. Mr. Callander helped me immensely with 
drawings and suggestions. In your case I should certainly go to 
him." 

Gerard took her advice, and went to !Mr. Callander, of v'hora 
Larose declared that he was the only man in London who had any 
taste in fm'niture. 

To this gentleman the millionaire explained his desires very 
briefly. 

" My house is to be severely Italian," he said, " and I want you 
to furnish it as if it were a villa between Florence and Fiesole, and 
as if I were Leonardo di Medici." 

" And is expense to be no more considered than if you were one 
of the Medici?" 

" You can spend as much as you like, but you must not mako 
any display of wealth. I have come unexpectedly into a fortune, 
and I don't want people to point to me as a nouveau riche." 

" Your house shall be furnished with a subdued splendour which 
shall make people think that your surroundings have descended to 
you from a Florentine ancestor. There shall be nothing to suggest 
newness, or the display of unaccustomed wealth." 

" You are evidently an artist, ]\Ir. Callander. Try to realise the 
artistic ideal in aU its purity. But remember, if you please, there 
are two rooms on the i^first floor, to the left of the staircase, which 
I mean to furnish myself, and for which you need not provide 
anything." 

It was now the third week in July, and London was beginning to 
put on its deserted aspect. Three weeks ago it had been a work of 
dilEculty to cross from one side of Bond Street to the other ; but 
now crossing the most fashionable thoroughfares was as easy and 
leisurely a matter as a stroll in daisied meads. Everybody was 



8o Gerard ; or, 

leaving town or talking of leaving, and dinners and balls "svere 
becoming a memory of the past, except Bucb small dinners as 
may be given to the chosen few during a period of transition. 
Goodwood was over, and after Goodwood the tocsin of retreat is 
sounded. 

Gerard dined in a party of four in Hertford Street. Mrs. Gresham 
had returned for a final glimpse of London, after a fortnight's severe 
duties in her husband's parish. He was Vicar of a curious old 
settlement in Suffolk, a httle town which had been a seaport, but 
from which the sea had long since retired, perhaps disgusted with 
the dulness of the place. 

She was delighted to see Mr. Hillersdon again, and he could 
but note the increased fervour of her manner since his improved 
fortunes. 

" I hope you have forgiven me for my premature application 
about the chancel," she said, plumping herself down upon the 
causeuse where he had seated himself after talking for a few minutes 
with his host. " It was dreadfully premature, I know ; but if you 
could see our dear, quaint, old church, with its long narrow nave 
and lofty roof, I'm sure you would be interested. Do you know 
anything about church architecture in Suffolk ? " 

" I blush to say it is one of the numerous branches of my 
education which have been neglected." 

" What a pity ! Our East Anglian churches are so truly interest- 
ing. Perhaps you will come down and see us at Sandvholme some 
day?" 

" Is Sandvholme Mr. Gresham's parish ? " 

" Yes ; we have the dearest old Vicarage, with only one objection 
— there are a good many earwigs in summer. But then our earwigs 
arc more than counterbalanced by our roses. We are on a clay 
soil, don't you know? I do hope you will come some Saturday and 
spend Sunday with us. You would like Alec's sermon, I know; 
and for a little Suffolk town our choir is not so very bad. I give 
up two evenings a week to practice with them. You will think 
about it, now, Mr. Hillersdon, won't you ? " 

" Yes, certainly I wiU think about it," answered Gerard, meaning 
never to do more. 

He had not been very attentive to the lady's discourse, for his 
thoughts had been engrossed by Mr. Champion, who was standing 
on the hearthrug, with his back to an arrangement of orchids which 
filled the fireplace, and which for a man of chilly temperament 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 8i 

poorly replaced the cheery fire. He was indeed what his wife had 
called him — a sohd block of a man, short, sturdy, with massive 
shoulders and broad chest, large head and bull-neck, sandy-haired, 
thick-featured, with the indications of vulgar h'neage in every detail. 
A man who had made his own career, evidently, and who had 
sacrificed length of years in the endeavour to push his way ahead 
of his fellow-men ; a resolute, self-sufficient, self-contained man, 
proud of his success, confident of his own merits, not easily jealous, 
but, it might be, a terrible man if betrayed ; — not a man to shut his 
ej-es to a wife's treachery, once suspected. 

Of ill-health the tokens were of the slightest. A hvid tinge under 
the eyes and about the coarsely moulded mouth, a flaccidity of the 
muscles of the face, and a dulness in the tarnished eyeballs, were 
all the marks of that slow and subtle change which had been creep- 
ing over the doomed victim during the last few years, unnoted by 
himself or those about him. 

At dinner the talk was chiefly of the approaching departure. Mr. 
and Mrs. Champion were going to Mont Oriol. 

"You'll look us up there, I suppose, Hillersdon," said Champion; 
"my wife could hardly get on without you; you arc almost as 
necessary to her as her dachshunds." 

"Yes, I dare say I shall find my way to Mont Oriol. I am by 
nature ii-resolute. You and Mrs. Champion have often saved me 
the trouble of deciding on holiday haunts." 

'' And now that you are rich I suppose you will be idler than 
ever," suggested Champion. 

'' Upon my word, no. My case seemed too hopeless for improve- 
ment while I was poor, and the stern necessity to earn monev 
benumbed any small capacity I may have had for writing a readable 
story." 

"You wrote one that delighted everybody," interposed Mrs. 
Gresham, who but dimly remembered the subject of his book, and 
was hardly sure of the title. 

'• But now that I need no longer write for bread my fancy may 
have a new birth. At any rate, it need not dance in fetters." 

Mr. Champion went ofl' to his whist club after dinner. He played 
whist at the same club every evening during the London season, 
unless peremptorily called upon to accompany his wife to some 
festive gathering. He was a very silent man, and had never been 
fond of society, though he liked to liave a line house and a liand- 
Bome wife, and to give dinners which very respectable, and evea 

a 



82 Gerard ; or, 

smart people, considered it a privilege to eat. His greatest 
pleasure was found in the city, liis chief relaxation at the whist 
table. 

"Don't be late, James," his wife said to him kindly, as he 
muttered something about stepping round to the club. " Your 
doctor makes such a strong point of your getting a long night's 
rest." 

" If my doctor could give me the capacity to sleep, I should set a 
higher value on his advice," said Champion, " but you need not be 
afraid, I shall be home at eleven." 

AVlren Mr. Champion was gone Mrs. Gresham was sent to the 
piano in the inner drawing-room, and Edith and Gerard were 
practically tete-a-tete. Cousin Eosa was very fond of music, and 
still fonder of her own playing. 

She at once attacked Mendelssohn's Capriccio, while the other 
two drew nearer to the verandah, and the perfume of the flowers, 
and the cool, starlit street, and began to talk. 

" I have been thinking a great deal about you lately," said Edith, 
and there was the sound of anxiety in her voice. 

" It is very good of you to keep me in your thoughts." 

" Good of me ! I cannot help mj^self. If I did not care for you 
more than I care for any one else in the world, the strangeness of 
our position would make me think about you. I have been full of 
such curious thoughts : but perhaps that is only because I have 
been reading ' La Peau do Chagrin ' again, after having almost 
forgotten the story. It is a horrid story." 

" No, no, Edith, a magnificent story, full of the profoundest 
philosophy." 

'• No, it is only full of gloom. Why is that young man to die, 
simply because he has inherited a fortune ? The story is dreadful, 
like a haunting, horrible dream. I can see that unhappy young 
man — so gifted, so handsome — sitting face to face with that hideous 
talisman, Avhich diminishes with his every wish, and marks how his 
young life is wasting away. I liave not been able to get the story 
out of my mind." 

" You are too impressionable, my dear Edith ; but I ovm the 
story has a gloomy fascination which makes it difficult to forget. 
It was the book which established Honord de Balzac's fame, and it 
seems to me that the hero is only a highly coloured image of the 
author, who wasted life and genius as feverishly as Raphael de 
Valentin —living witli the same eager intensity, working witli the 



The World, the Flesh, aitd the Devil. 83 

same fervid concentration, and dying in the zenith of his power, 
though by no means in the bloom of his youth." 

" Was not Alfred de Musset of the same type ? " 

" Undoubtedly. The type was common to the epoch. Byron set 
the example, and it was the fashion for men of genius to court un- 
timely death. Musset, the gi-eatest poet France has ever had, son 
of the morning, elegant, aristocratic, born to love and to be loved, 
after a youth of surpassing brilliance, wasted the ripest years of man- 
hood in the wine shops of the Quartier Latin, and was forgotten like 
a light blow^n out, long before the end of his life. Our geniuses of 
to-day know better how to husband their resources. They are as 
careful of their brain-power as an elderly spinster of her Sunday 
gown." 

" How much better for them and for posterity," said Mrs. Champion. 
" Please go on, Eosa," as Mrs. Gresham made a show of rising from 
the piano. " Grieg is always delightful." 

" So he is ; but I have been playing Rubinstein," replied Rosa, 
severely. 

"Then do play that sweet prelude of Chopin's in A flat major." 

" Why, I played it ten minutes ago," answered the lady at the 
piano. 

" How sweet of you ! You know how I worship Chopin," answered 
Edith, unabashed, and immediately went on talking. 

" I dare say it is onljr the effect of that horrible story," she said, 
'* but I have been feeling absurdly morbid of late, and I can't help 
tormenting myself about your health." 

"A most futile torment, since I am perfectly well," Gerald 
answered irritably. 

" No doubt, no doubt ; but my husband seemed perfectly well 
last year, and yet there was all manner of organic mischief. I know 
you are not strong, and since you came into your fortune you have 
been looking dreadfully ill." 

" So my mother told me. Gold has evidently a bad effect upon 
the complexion, and yet the seventeenth century physicians con- 
sidered it a fine tonic, boiled in broth." 

" I want you to do me a favour, Gerard." 

" Command my devotion in all things, great and small." 

" Oh, it is not a great thing. You will come to Mont Oriol, of 
course ? " 

" Yes. If that is all you were going to ask- " 

" It is something more than that. Before vou leave London I 



84 Gerard ; or, 

want you to consult the cleverest physician you can find. The man 
who knows most about brain, and heart, and lungs." 

"A wide field for scientific exploration. I suppose you really 
mean the man who has contrived to make himself the fashion — the 
man to whom it is the right thing to go." 

" No, no. I am not the slave of fashion. Go to some one who 
wUl understand you — who will he able to advise you how to enjoy 
your hfe, without wasting it as Balzac and Musset did." 

"Have no fear. I am no Balzac or Musset. I have no Byronic 
tire consuming me ; and be assured I mean to husband my life — for 
the sake of the years to come — which should be very happy." 

He took up the hand lying loose in her lap, the beautiful, carefully 
cherished hand which the winds of heaven never visited too roughly, 
and bent down to kiss it, just as the Moonlight Sonata came to a 
close. 

'• Oh, do go on, Rosa. Some more Mendelssohn, please." 

With perhaps the faintest touch of maUce Mrs. Gresham attacked 
the Wedding March, with a crash that made the lamp glasses 
shiver. 

" Do you know of any clever physician ? " asked Edith. 

" I have never needed a physician since I was eleven years old, 
and the only famous doctor I know is the man who saved my life 
then, Doctor South, the children's doctor. I have half a mind to go 
to him." 

" A child's doctor ! " said Edith, shrugging her shoulders. 

" Children have hearts, and brains, and lungs, I dare say Dr. 
South knows something about those organs, even in adults." 

"You win go to him to-morrow morning, then — and if he is not 
satisfied he will advise another opinion. I should have preferred the 
new German doctor, whom everybody is consulting, and who does 
such wonders with hypnotism — Dr. Geistrauber. They say he is a 
most wonderful man." 

"'They' are an authority not always to be relied upon. I 
would rather go to Dr. South, who saved my life when I was in 
knickerbockers." 

" Were you so very ill then ? " asked Mrs. Champion, tenderly 
interested even in a crisis of seventeen years ago. 

'' Yes ; I believe I was as bad as a little lad can be, and yet live. 
When I try to remember my illness it seems only a troubled dream, 
through which Dr. South's kindly face looms large and distinct. 
My complaint was inflammation of the lungs, a malady which Dr. 



The World, ihc Flesh, and the Devil. 85 

South said most children take rather kindly ; but in my case there 
were comphcations. I was like Mrs. Gummidge, and the disease 
was worse for me than for other children. I was as near death's door 
as any one can go without crossing the threshold ; and my people 
believe to this day that but for Dr. South I should have entered at 
that fatal door. It was a pull for a man of my father's means to 
bring down the famous children's doctor, but the dear old dad never 
regretted the heavy fee ; and here I am to tell the story, of which I 
knew very little at the time, for I was off my head all through the 
worst of my illness, and I believe there was one stage of delirium 
during which I associated Dr. South's fine grey head — prematurely 
grey — with a great white elephant of Siam of which I had been 
reading in ' Peter Parley's Annual.' " 

"Poor dear little fellow!" sighed Edith Champion, with retro- 
spective affection. 

" How sweet of you to pity me ! I find myself pitying my own 
small image in that dim and troubled time, as if it were anybody's 
child. The complications were dreadful — pleurisy, pneumonia; I 
believe the local doctor found a new name for my complaint nearly 
every day, till Dr. South gave his decisive verdict, and then pulled 
me through by his heroic treatment. Yes, I will go to him to-moiTOw; 
not because I want medical advice, but because I should like to see 
my old friend again." 

" Go to him ; pray go to him," urged Edith, " and tell him every- 
thing about yourself." 

" My dear Edith, I have no medical confession to make. I am 
not ill." 

Mrs. Gresham had played herself out, for the time being, and came 
into the front drawing-room as the footman appeared with tea d la 
Fran^aise — tea that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, tired Nature's 
nurse, for Duchesses as well as for washerwomen. 

The talk became general, or became, rather, a lively monologue 
on the part of Rosa Gresham, who loved her OAvn inteipretation of 
Chopin or Cliarvenka, but loved the sound of her own voice better 
than any music that ever was composed. 

Mr. Champion reappeared a few minutes after eleven, looking tired 
and white after an hour and a half at the whist club, and Hillersdon 
went out as his host came in — went out, but not home. lie walked 
eastward, and looked in at two late clubs, chiefly impelled by his 
desire to meet Justin Jermyn, but there was no sign of the Fate- 
reader either at the Petunia or the Small-Hours, and no one whom 



86 Gerard ; or, 

Hillersdon questioned about him had seen him since Lady Fridoline'a 
party. 

" He has gone to some Bad in Bohemia," said Larose ; " a Bad 
with a crackjaw name. I beheve he invents a name and a Bad every 
•summer, and then goes quietly and hves up the country between 
Broadstairs and Birchington, and basks all day upon some solitary 
stretch of sand, or on the edge of some lonely cliff, where the North 
Sea breezes blow above the rippling ripeness of the wheat ; and lies 
in the sunshine, and plans fresh impostures for the winter season. 
No one will see him or hear of him any more till November, and 
then he will come back and tell us what a marvellous place 
Kumpelstiltzkinbad is for shattered nerves ; and he will describe the 
scenerj'^, and the hotel, and the hot springs, and the people — ay, 
almost as picturesquely as I could myself," concluded Larose, with 
his low, unctuous chuckle, which was quite different from Jermyn's 
elfin laughter, and as characteristic of the man himself. 

Hillersdon stayed late at the Small Hours, and drank just a little 
more dry champagne than his mother or Mrs. Champion would have 
approved, women having narrow notions about the men they love, 
notions which seem hardly ever to pass the restrictions of the 
nursery. He did not drink because he Hked the wine, nor even for 
joviality's sake ; but from a desire to get away from himself and from 
a sense of irritation which had been caused by ]\Irs. Champion's 
suggestions of ill-health. 

" I shall be hypnotised into an invalid if people persist in telling 
me I am ill," he said to himself, dweUing needlessly iipon Edith 
Champion's anxieties. 

The market carts were lumbering into Covent Garden when he 
went home, and as the natural result of a late night and an unusual 
amount of champagne, he slept ill and woke with a headache. He 
breakfasted upon a devilled biscuit and a cup of green tea, and was 
in Harley Street before eleven o'clock. 

Having made no appointment, Mr. Hillersdon had to undergo the 
purgatory of the waiting-room, where an anxious and somewhat 
dowdy mother was trying to beguile the impatience of a rickety son 
with picture books, and, in her gentle solicitude, offering a curious 
contrast to a much smarter mother, whose thoughts seemed to be 
rather with an absent dressmaker than with her sickly, overgrown 
girl, to whom she spoke occasionally in accents of reproof, or in 
lachrymose complaint at having to wait so long for Dr. South, while 
Madame Viola was no doubt waiting for her — " and when I do get 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, ^"j 

to Bruton Street very likely she won't see me," lamented the lady, 
in an undertone. " It's all your fault, Clara, for catching cold. You 
are so idiotic about yourself. I dare say you will be ordered off to 
some expensive place in Switzerland, Doctors have no considera- 
tion for one." 

The girl's only reply to this maternal wailing was a little hacking 
cough, which recurred as often as a comma. Her wan face and 
rather shabby frock contrasted with the mother's artistic bloom and 
perfect tailor gown. Hillersdon felt a sense of relief when the man 
in black looked in at the door, and summoned mother and daughter 
with a mysterious nod, which seemed pregnant with mournful augury, 
although it meant nothing but " your turn." 

The anxious lady impressed him so much more pleasantly that, 
as time hung heavy, he made friends with the boy, helped to enter- 
tain him by presenting the illustrations of a zoological book in a 
new light for the next quarter of an hour ; and then the rickety boy 
and his mother were summoned, and more patients came in, and 
Hillersdon tried to lose his consciousness of the passing moments 
in the pages of a stale Saturday Revieiv, — moments too distinctly 
measured by the ticking of a very fine Sherraton clock, which stood 
sentinel in a niche by the sideboard. 

The man in black came for him at last, as it were the fatal ferry- 
man ready for a new passenger, and he was ushered into the 
presence of Dr. South, whom he found in a spacious room at the 
back of the house, lighted by a large wmdow, which commanded a 
metropohtan garden, shut in by ivy-covered walls. 

The grey hair and genial smile brought back a vision of a little 
bed near a sunny window, and summer breezes blowing over a head 
that seemed to scorch the pillow where it lay. 

He recalled the childish illness and the Devonian Eectory to Dr. 
South, who remembered his journey by the night mail, and his 
arrival at daybreak in the stillness of a summer Sabbath morning — 
no labourer going out to the fields, only the song of the lark higli 
up in the infinite blue above the ripening wheat. Dr. South had 
not forgotten that long summer day, in which, like many another 
medical Alcides, he had fought with death, wrestled with and thrown 
the grisly shade, and had gone back to his hospital and his London 
patients, leaving hope and comfort behind him. 

" I know I was very much interested in the case," he said. 
"Your mother was such a sweet woman. She has been spared to 
you, I hope." 



88 Gerard ; or, 

" Yes, thank God, she is in excellent health — a young woman still 
in mind and habits." 

And then he told Dr. South how, being just a little uneasy about 
his own constitution — though with no consciousness of any evil — 
he had come to be overhauled by the physician whose skDl he 
knew by experience. 

" Please consider me a little lad again," he said lightly, " and 
knock my chest about as you did when I was lying in a troubled 
dream, making nonsense-pictures of all my surroundings." 

" We shall not find much amiss, I hope," replied the doctor, with 
his kindly smile. "Take off your coat and waistcoat, if you 
please." 

The auscultation was careful and prolonged. There was none of 
that pleasantly perfunctory air with which the physician dismisses 
a good case. Dr. South seemed bent upon exploring every square 
inch of that well set-up frame, from shoulders to waist, with bent 
head and stethoscope at his ears. He concluded his examination 
with a faint sigh, which might mean only fatigue. 

"Do you find anything amiss?" asked the patient, rather 
anxiously. 

" I cannot detect absolute organic mischief, but tliere is a certain . 
amount of w^eakness in both heart and lungs. You have had some 
painful shock very lately, have you not ? Your nerves have been 
greatly shaken." 

" I have had a gi-eat surprise, but it was pleasant rather than 

painful." 

" I rejoice to hear it, but the fact that a pleasant surprise should 
have so unhinged you is in itself a warning." 

"How so?" 

" It denotes liighly strung nerves and a certain want of stamina. 
To be frank with you, Mr. Hillersdon, yours is not what we call a 
good life ; but many men of your constitution live to old age. It 
is a question of husbanding your resources. With care, and a 
studious avoidance of all excesses, moral or physical, you may live 

long." 

Gerard thought of the 'peau decliarjrin. A studious avoidance 
of excess — in other words, a constant watch upon that red line upon 
the sheet of white paper which showed the shrinking of the talis- 
man. Little by little, with every hour of agitated existence, with 
every passionate hoart-tlirol), and every eager wish, the sum total 
of his davs would dwindle. 



The World, the Flesh, mid the Devil. S9 

" I have just come into a large fortune, and am only beginning 
to live," he said fretfully. " It is hard to be told at this juncture 
that I have not a good life." 

" I cannot prophesy smooth things, Mr. Hillersdou. You come 
to me for the truth ? " 

" Yes, yes, I know ; and I am gi-ateful to you for your candour ; 
but still it is hard lines, you must allow." 

" It would be harder if you were a struggling professional man, 
and saw your career blighted at the outset. I am very glad to hear 
of your good fortime. With the resources and expedients of modem 
science — which are all at the command of wealth — you ought to 
live to be eighty." 

"Yes, but at the price of an unemotional hfe. I am to vegetate, 
not to live ! " 

He slipped the neatly papered guineas into the doctor's hand, 
and then turning on the threshold he asked nervously — 

" Do you forbid me to marry, lest I should become the father of 
a consumptive progeny? " 

" By no means. I find no organic mischief, as I told you. I 
would strongly advise you to marrj-. In a happy domestic life you 
would find the best possible environment for a man of your some- 
what fragile physique and highly nervous temperament." 

" Thanks ; that is encouraging, at any rate. Good day." 

After leaving the doctor Hillersdon strolled across Portland Place 
and into the Portland Road, where he made an exploration of the 
second-hand furniture shops, in search of certain objects which were 
to assist in realising his idea as to those two rooms in his Italian 
villa which he had taken upon himself to furnish. 

An hour's peregrination from shop to shop resulted only in the 
purchase of one piece of furniture — a black oak cabinet, ostensibly 
of tlie sixteenth century, possibly a clever piece of patchwork put 
together last year. It satisfied Gerard Hillersdon because it 
closely resembled another black oak cabinet which he had seen 
lately. 

He had taken it into his head to reproduce for his own private 
den those two rooms in which he had sat at supper with Justin 
Jerniyn, and where he had seen the vision of Hester Davenport ; 
rooms which perhaps had no tangible existence, dream-rooms, the 
shadow-pictures of a hypnotic trance. It pleased him to think that 
he could reproduce in sohd oak and brass, in old Venetian glass 
and quaint Dutch pottery, the scene which might have I'Cen 



90 Gerard ; or, 

made up of shadows, since his failure to discover the house or 
the locality of the house where he had supped -with Jermyn 
had given a tinge of unreality to all his memories of that eventful 
night. 



CHAPTER IX. 

"l BUILT MY SOUL A LORDLY PLEASURE-HOUSE." 

FoK those who were not bound by their doctors to some constrain- 
ing regimen of bathing and self-denial, life at Mont Oriol was one 
perpetual holiday. Such visitors as Edith Champion lived only to 
amuse themselves — to drive to distant ruins — ride in the early 
morning when the sun-baked grass was cooled with dew, play cards 
or billiards, and dance in the evening. For Mr. Champion Mont 
Oriol meant daily baths, a severe regimen as to meat and drink, 
and a strict avoidance of all business transactions, such transactions 
being the very delight of his life, the salt which gave hfe its savour, 
and without which the man felt himself already dead. 

"There are men who are dead from the waist doAvnwards," he 
said one day, " and who have to be dragged about in bath chairs, 
or lifted in and out of a carriage. I don't pity them, as long as 
they are allowed to write their owm business letters. I am dead 
from the waist upwards." 

He had his secretary with him at Mont Oriol, and in spite of all 
prohibitions, that falcon eye of his was never off the changes of the 
money market. He had telegrams from the Stock Exchange daily, 
in his own particular cypher, which was at once secret and eco- 
nomical. There were days when tens of thousands trembled in the 
balance, while he sat taking his sun-bath on the terrace in front of 
the hotel, and when the going down of the sun interested him only 
because it was to bring him tidings of loss or gain. 

"Would you like a set of opals, Edith? " he asked one day at 
afternoon tea, crumpling up the little bit of blue paper which had 
just been brought to him. " I have made some money by a rise in 
Patagonian Street Kailways." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 91 

" A thousand thanks, but you forget the opals you gave me two 
years ago. I don't think you could improve upon those." 

"Yes, I had forgotten them. They belonged to a Eussian 
Princess. I got them for about half their value. Then I suppose 
there is nothing I can give you ? " he asked, with a faint sigh, as if 
her indifference had suggested the impotence of riches. 

"You are too good. I think not. I have everything in the 
world I care for." 

Mr. Champion and his wife had the handsomest suite of rooms 
in the hotel, and Gerard had taken the next best. Between them 
they absorbed an entire floor in one wing of the great white barrack. 
They were thus in a manner secluded from the vulgar herd, and 
Gerard seemed as if staying on a visit with the Champions, since 
he was invited to use their salon as freely as his own, while he 
dined with them five days out of seven. He had his own servants 
with him, valet and groom, and he began to think that he too 
wanted a secretary, if it were only to write every day to architect 
or builder, urging them to expedite their work. He was eager to 
be installed in his own house— eager to accumulate pictures and 
statuary, curios, books, plate— to taste the feverish rapture of 
spending his money. K, as Dr. South had hinted, his life was 
likely to be shorter than the average life, there was all the more 
reason why he should spend his money freely, why he should crowd 
into a few years aU the enjoyment that wealth can buy. Yet even 
here there was peril. He had been warned agamst all fierce 
emotions. To prolong that feeble life of his he must five tem- 
perately, and never pass the limits of tranquil domestic hfe. 

It seemed to him that with this view he could hardly have done 
better for himself than in that compact which he had made with 
Edith Champion. In his relations with her there was no fiery 
agitation, no passionate impatience. He loved her, and had loved 
her long — perhaps a little more passionately when his love was a 
new thing, but not, he assured himself, more devotedly than he 
loved her now. He was secure of her love, secure also of her 
virtue, for had she not known how to maintain her self-respect 
during this long apprenticeship to platonic affection? Their Hvcs 
would glide smoothly on, tiU James Champion, cared for and kindly 
treated to the last hour of his existence, should drop gently into the 
grave, decently mourned for such space of time and in such manner 
as the world exacts of well-bred widows. And then Edith and he 
would be married, and would assume that commanding position in 



92 Geraj'd ; or, 

London and continental society whicii only a husband and wife 
whose views and culture exactl}' harmonise can ever attain. The 
prospect was in every way agreeable, and he could look forward 
to it without any quickened throbbing of his tired heart. Dr. South 
had called it a tired heart — a heart with which there was nothing 
organicallj'' wrong, only the languor left by the strain of over- work. 
He could sit in the hotel garden taking his sun-bath, and placidly 
admiring the perfection of Edith's profile, shadowed by the broad- 
leaved Leghorn hat, or the delicate arch of her instep in the 
high-heeled Parisian shoe, so eminently adapted for sitting 
still. 

And thus the days went by at Mont Oriol, and nothing broke the 
monotony of luxurious idleness — a life such as Guinevere and her 
knights and ladies may have led at Camelot, when things were 
beginning to go rather badly at the Court of King Arthur, a life of 
sensuous pleasures and dormant intellectuality — a life in which 
people talked about books, but rarely read, affected a profound 
interest in advanced philanthropy, yet would have hardly risen 
from an easy-chair to save a fellow-man from ruin, a life in which 
heart and brain were only half awake, while the desire of the eye 
and the delight of the ear were paramount. 

Pleasant as this holiday time was, Gerard rejoiced when it came 
to an end and he was free to return to London and look after his 
architect and builder. October was half gone when he arrived in 
his old shabby quarters near the church, at which his new valet — 
vice Dodd, superannuated — looked with contempt. The builders 
were hard at work in the house near the Park — Stamford House 
it had been called, but it was to be known henceforward by tlie 
name of its new owner. The builders were working by night as 
well as by day, by the aid of the electric light which was already 
installed. Gerard went to sec them at work on the night after his 
return, and to his fancy there seemed something demoniac in the 
vision of these men swarming up and down ladders and balancing 
themselves upon narrow cornices in the cold clear light, and amidst 
the noise of many hammers. 

They were a little behind with their work, the clerk of the works 
admitted, but there liad been a difficulty in getting good men, and 
he was determined only to have first-rate workmen upon a job of 
such importance. 

" Depend upon it, you'll be satisfied with the result, sir," he said. 
" The alteration of the fa^'ade has been a very difficult job, I can 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 93 

assure you. It isn't like beginning fair, you see. We have liaci to 
adapt the loggia to the existing front, and to avoid all appearance 
of patchwork. You'll be pleased when it's done." 

" Perhaps I shall, if I live long enougji to see it," answered 
Gerard, fretfully. " But judging by the present aspect of the house, 
I may be in my grave before it is finished." 

''Oh, indeed, sir, we are more forward than you may think. 
The interior decorations are going on simultaneously. Things -Rnll 
come together in a day. The architect is thoroughly satisfied with 
the way the work is being done." 

"No doubt; but the architect is not waiting to occupy the house, 
as I am." 

He stayed there for nearly two hours betwixt midnight and 
morning, going about with the clerk of the works amidst all the 
litter and confusion of painters and cai-penters, glaziers and plumbers, 
a veritable pandemonium, in which fiends were passing to and fro 
with cauldrons of boiling lead, and pots of acrid-smelling paint, a 
scene of discordant noises, shriU whistling from divers whistlers, 
sounds of plane and hammer, chisel and augur. It was out of this 
chaos his ideal mansion was to come, fresh as the world when the 
Creator saw that it was well. 

He went there again next day with Mrs. Champion and her niece. 
She had 'at least a dozen nieces, and took up one or another as 
capriciously as she chose her gloves. Roger Larose and the 
fm-niture-man were there to meet them, and they all went over the 
house by daylight, peering into every comer, and discussing every 
detail, the mantelpieces, the stoves, the windows and window-seats, 
moulding, panelling, painting, carving, glass stained, and glass 
Venetian, Bohemian, Belgian. 

Aunt and niece were both agreed that house and decorations 
would be quite too lovely. They did not attempt any more 
technical opinion. The niece. Miss Flora Bellinger, went about 
with her petticoats held up and her shoulders and elbows contracted, 
murmuring, " Lovely, lovely," to everything, even the sink in tlie 
housemaid's pantry, and in deadly fear of wet paint. 
One suggestion Mrs. Champion ventured to make : 
"Be sure you have plenty of corners," she said to Mr. Larose; 
" quaint, odd angles, don't you know — pretty little nooks that can 
be made Moorish, or Japanese, or Dutch, or Old English, just as 
one's fivncy maj' suggest." 

"My dear lady, you see the rooms," replied the architect gravely, 



94 Gerard ; or, 

'■'and you see the angles. I cannot alter the shape of rooms that 
are practically finished." 

" That's a pity. I thought you could have throvm in comers. 
The rooms are utterly lovely — ^but there are no cosy nooks." 

'• I see, Mrs. Champion, that you hanker after a Flemish style, 
which has now become the property of the restaurants. Were you 
ever in the Ricardi Palace at Florence ? " 

"Yes, IknowitwelL" 

" I don't think you saw any quaint nooks or odd angles there, 
althousrh vou mav find as many as vou like in Earl's Court." 

" Yes, I suppose they are getting common," sighed Mrs. Champion; 
" everything becomes common — everything pretty and fantastical, 
at least." 

After that searching inspection, which involved certain small 
emendations and final decisions, Gerard Hillersdon told himself that 
he would look no more upon his house until it was finished, except 
those two rooms which he was to famish after his own devices. It 
would worry liim too much to go there day after day only to see 
how slowly the British workman can work. Mrs. Champion and 
her husband were to spend November and December at Brighton, 
po Gerard went down to the Rectory, where mother and sister were 
fuU of delight when he told them that he had come to stay for at 
least a month. 

He found his fandly rejoicing over the good fortune of Mr. 
Cumberland, who had been promoted from a rural curacy to a 
London hving. The stipend was modest, but the parish was 
extensive, and included one of the poorest distincts in the great 
city — a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys lying between the 
churches of St. Anne and St. Giles. It was in just such a parish as 
this that John Cumberland desired .to laboiu-. He was at heart a 
Socialist. He believed in the stringent rights of the poor and the 
responsibilities of the rich, and saw in the increasing luxury and 
costliness which marked the existence of the upper classes the sign 
of a degenerate people and a profligate age. In his new parish of 
St. Lawrence, Wardour Street, there were all those elements of life 
which most deeply interested him. It was a parish of mixed classes 
and divers nationalities, the chosen haunt of tlie impecunious exile, 
the Nihilist and the Fenian, the Carbonaro and the Karl Marxian, 
It was a parish peopled by the inteUigent British workman, the 
self-educated and self-sufficient mechanic. Great blocks of build- 
ings, erected at difi'erent periods, and showing difierent stages of 



The Wo7'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 95 

architectural and sanitary improvement, cast their mighty shadows 
over the lower level of slates and tiles that roofed the courts and 
alleys of the past. These huge edifices were model lodging-houses, 
more or less admirable in their arrangements, and at their worst a 
considerable advance upon the hovels that surrounded them. 

Here, too, in the parish of St. Lawrence the Martyr, was the 
well-known club for women who earned their bread by the sweat 
of their brow — needlewomen of all kinds, factory girls of divers 
industries, from jam and pickle making in Soho to filling cartridges 
in the Gray's Inn Road — a club which was the centre of civilisation, 
improvement, and all refining influences, for hundreds of hard- 
working girls and women, and which had flourished exceedingly 
under the fostering care of Lady Jane Blenheim, a woman who 
devoted her hfe to good works. John Cumberland was delighted 
at the prospect of having Lady Jane for his counsellor and ally ; 
nor was he in any way disheartened by the knowledge that he and 
his young wife were to begin their wedded life in a district whicli 
smart people would call "impossible." The Vicarage of St. 
Lawrence was a substantially built early Georgian house, in Greek 
Street, a street which was occupied by the very cream of modish 
society in the days of Chesterfield and Bolingbroke, but which is 
now chiefly distinguished by French laundries and restaurants, 
Italian grocery, and foreign conspirators of various tj^es and 
nationalities. 

The living was worth something under five hundred a year, but 
the Kector of Helmsleigh knew by experience how much of a 
clergyman's income has to be sacrificed to the claims of his parish, 
and how little may be left for his own maintenance. He had, 
therefore, questioned the wisdom of allowing his daughter to marry 
a man whose only independent means consisted of a legacy of 
railwaj"" shares from a spinster aunt, which shares produced about 
a hundred and twenty pounds a year. He was also averse from 
the idea of Lilian's Imes being set in the smoky atmosphere of 
Soho. 

" Let Jack Cumberland dree his tveird under the shadow of Cross 
and Blackwell, and take his fill of work in a poor parish for the 
next two or three years," said the Hector, with his genial aii-, 
cheerily disposing of other people's lives. " By that time he will 
have made himself a reputation as a powerful preacher, and some- 
thing better will turn up — a fat living in a nice part of the country, 
where my pet can have her garden and glebe meadows." 



96 Gerard ; or, 

" Indeed, father, I don't want a garden, and a sleepy, idle life, 
such as — as the very best people are content to lead in the country," 
answered Lilian, eagerly. " I would nauch rather work hard with 
Jack in a poor parish like St. Lawrence." 

" Ah, that is the way with young people," sighed the Rector, 
Avhose favourite maxim for the last twenty years had been that 
of Parson Dale, Quieta tion movere, "they are always wanting to 
go out and fight dragons. If they are not rampant for pleasure, 
tennis, dances, hunting, why then they are rampant for work. 
The gii'ls want to be hospital nurses, the boys want to be East End 
curates, or to go to Africa, or, at the first whisper of some purposeless, 
unnecessary war, they rush ofi" to enlist. Young people have no 
idea how good it is to take Hfe quietly, and make the most of one's 
allotted span." 

The young people in this instance were so resolute, and their 
elders so yielding, that it was finally agreed that Lilian and Jack 
should be married a year after he had read himself in at the church 
of St. Lawrence. A year would give him time to settle do'wn in 
his parish, to put a good many crooked things straight, and get 
into a groove in which his life and Lilian's might move quietly along, 
without over much worry or emotion. He would have time to 
furnish those gloomy old panelled rooms which to Lilian's eyes 
Avere beautiful, fraught with delightful memories of patch and 
powder, lovely ladies in rustling brocade sacques, daintily emerging 
from their sedan chairs to trip lightly up the stone steps, while 
their running footmen quenched their torches under the iron 
extinguishers. The panelled walls, the iron extinguishers were 
left, but who now has a running footman ? Duchess Georgina 
had six, six splendid over-fed creatures in plush and bullion, silk 
stockinged, powdered, beautiful, six to run in the mud beside her 
chair, and hover about her and protect her when she alighted. 
Lilian was charmed at the thought of the old-fashioned Loudon 
house, and the rapture of picking up quaint old cabinets and 
secretaires, and tables with claw and ball feet, to furnish withal. 
She was in no wise depressed by the notion of a year's engagement. 
This time of courtship was such a happy time — a season of 
tenderest chivalry, and pretty trivial gifts, and small innocent 
pleasures which needed much planning beforehand, season of letters 
peipetual and unending, letters about nothing, yet so delightful to 
the recipient, letters Avritten at midniglit, letters pencilled hastily 
in the early morning — nay, one letter written in the vestry, which 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 97 

eeemed a kind of sacrilege, but was not less esteemed on that 
account, 

" There are hours in which you are my religion, and I almost 
forget that I have any other," said Jack, when his sweetheart 
reproached him for that vestry letter. 

Mr. Cumberland was still doing duty as curate at Helmsleigh 
when Gerard came on the scene. He was to assume his new duties 
shortly after Christmas. 

" Then Lilian can come and keep house for me," said Gerard, 
"and then she will be able to see her lover every day, and I can 
help in the furnishing." 

" Oh, please don't," cried his sister. " You would spoU all our 
fun. You have too much monej'. You would just say to an 
upholsterer, ' fui'nish,' and he would come with his men and take 
possession of — our house," with a shy smile, and a blushing glance 
at her lover, " and everything would be done splendidly, expensively, 
and as the upholsterer hked, not as we Hke. No, dear Gerard, 
we are goiug to pick up our furniture bit by bit, and it is to be 
all as old as that wicked old George who shut up his poor wife in 
the Castle at Alden. We have begun already. We bought a walnut- 
wood bureau with brass bandies, in Exeter, the other day — so old — 
oh, so old — and all genuine." 

"Except the handles," said Cumberland, laughing ; " I shouldn't 
like to answer for the handles. They look very Hke having been 
put on last week." 

"They have been newly lacquered, sir. You are di-eadfully 
ignorant. The dear old drawers and pigeon holes and secret 
recesses smell of old papers — lost wills — marriage certificates upon 
which gi-eat fortunes depend — love letters — sermons preached a 
hundred and fifty years ago. That bureau is a romance in 
walnut-wood, and if you could see the dirty old shop in which 

we found it " 

"I am answered," said Gerard; "the wealth of the Indies 
cannot give you half the pleasure you will find in bargain-hunting 
in dirty shops. Perhaps when you have found that most of your 
treasures are spurious, and that you could have got better and 
truer antiques for less money at a West End upholsterer's, your 
bargain hunting will lose some of its zest. I bide my time." 

It amused him a little, and interested him deeply to see how 
small a significance his wealth had in the eyes of his sister, as 
compared with her lover and her own outlook of genteel poverty 

H 



98 Gerard ; or, 

in a crowded Loudon parish. For this girl, deep in love witli an 
enthusiast) and sharing his enthusiasm, wealth had no fascination. 

"You are too good," she told her brother, when they two were 
alone, and he pressed her to accept a handsome dowry, "but I 
shouldn't care to have money settled upon me, for fear Jack 
should feel humiliated. He cannot afford to settle anything; and I 
shouldn't hke the settlement to be onesided." 

" But, my dear girl, that is all nonsense." 

" Perhaps it is, only please let me have my own way. We are 
sure to want your help by-and-by, to buUd schools, or to improve 
the church, perhaps. There is sure to be some pressing want in 
the parish, and then we will appeal to you. And in the meantime, 
as we are to live among poor people, it is good for us to be poor. 
"We shall be able to sympathise with them, and understand them 
all the better." 

Gerard argued no longer, but he meant that his sister should 
be dowered by him, all the same. She should not be poor, while 
he was inordinately rich. The settlement would have to be made. 
In the meantime he was glad that the marriage was delayed a 
year, so that he might have this bright young creature for hia 
companion in the new home whose splendour he thought of some- 
times with a thrill of apprehension. Would he not feel lonely 
in that large house until he could bring a wife home, and all hia 
wife's feminine surroundings of cousins and bosom friends, with 
their flutter, and fuss, and life, and movement? A house occupied 
only by men has always a gloomy atmosphere. There lacks the 
colour and frou-frou of women's brighter raiment. 

He pleaded with his mother that she should spare Lilian to him, 
until she should be claimed by a husband, and the mother, who 
dearly loved this wayward son — her poet as she had called him 
in the fond exaggeration of maternal love, intoxicated by his 
juvenile success in Hterature — could refuse him nothing. She 
would have to part with her only daughter in a little time. That 
was inevitable. The light-hearted daughter of the house, she 
^Yhose heaviest task hitherto had been the making of a new frock 
for a smart-garden-party, she whose only sorrows had been the 
sorrows of others, w-as now to go out into tlie thick of the fight, 
aiid bear her o\vn burdens as wife and mother, and carry on her 
shoulders and in her heart the care of a man's life, his mistakes 
and disappointments, his failures and difTiculties, all his frailties 
and feebleness, physical and mental. These were to be her burden, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 99 

and these she must carry patiently to the end, or else go out into 
the dismal company of faithless, dishonoured wives. The Kector 
of Helmsleigh had been a good husband, as husbands go, yet 
his wife looked at her fair young daughter, sitting at the piano 
under the soft lamp-hght, accompanying her lover's song, very 
much as Abraham may have looked at Isaac on the eve of the 
intended sacrifice. 

" It mil not be a parting for you and Lihan," pursued Gerard, 
intent upon his purpose, "for I shall expect you to spend all the 
best part of the year at Hillersdon House. TVe "will do the London 
season together. TVe ■wUl drink the cup of pleasure to the dregs." 

" My dearest boy, what do I know of the season ? I should be 
out of my element among the people you call smart. When 
Barbara Vere rattled on about her great parties, and her lords 
and ladies, I felt as if she was talking an unknown language. I 
can get on very well with our county people here — we are county 
ourselves, you know — but I dare say I should hardly feel comfortable 
with them if I met them in London, in all their London finery." 

" DcEir mother, you underrate the adaptability of your plastic 
sex. I can conceive my father feeling bored by town gaieties, and 
pining for his poultry-yard, his county papers, and his infallible 
barometer. He has got into the rustic groove, and might sufler 
by transplantation — but you would enjoy the quick, eager existence, 
and intellectual friction." 

'•I certainly should delight in meeting intellectual people — ■ 
Tennyson, Browning, Tyndall, and Owen for instance," said Mrs. 
HUlersdon, as if a httle group of that kind were to be met at every 
evening party in the season. 

" And the music and the pictures," suggested Gerard. 
" Tes, indeed, there is so much to see and to hear in London. 
T\'hen we have gone up to Limmer's for a fortnight the time has been 
aU. too short. A Greenwich dinner, which I shall always consider a 
sad waste of time and money, an afternoon at Piichmond, perhaps a 
day at Ascot, and luncheon parties in London with too hospitable 
friends. The fortnight goes by in a rush, and one seems to have 
seen nothing." 

" It shall be otherwise when you are with me, mother. "We wiU 
go about in a leisurely way, and see everything. I know my httle 
London, all that she is and all that she is not, and I wiU teach you 
how to get the best she can give you. I wonder what you will think 
of my house." 



100 Gerard; or, 

" I am sure it will be perfect. You have sucli good taste." 
" Fond flatterer. I have nothing but money, which can buy the 
educated taste of other people." 

* • * « * 

Gerard spent Chi-istmas at the Rectory, partly because his mother 
was especially anxious that he should be with her at that season of 
family gatherings, and partly because his latest letters from builder, 
architect, and furnitm'e man promised the completion of the house 
on the last day of the year. There had been a good deal of pre- 
varication in former letters, and there had been various excuses for 
delay — excuses chiefly of a cUmatic nature, the elements seeming 
to have conspired against the completion of that particular house. 
Frost may have told Fog that the house belonged to a new 
man, and that the new man ought to wait. Could he not be 
content with the dog-kennel in which he had hved hitherto, 
forsooth ? 

But Roger's last letter was specific. The builder pledged himself 
that his men should clear out of the house on the morning of the 
31st. Decorators, carpet-layers, needlewomen should vanish from 
the scene, silently as goblins at cockcrow, and on New Year's Evo 
men and women, builders' minions and upholsterers' minions, were 
to feast together on a grand supper at the " Bell and Horns," in the 
Brompton Road. 

Edith Champion had undertaken what she called the mounting of 
the establishment. She had secured an all-accomplished hoiise- 
keeper, and a clever man cook, who did not accept the situation 
until assured of three imderlings in the kitchen, a private sitting- 
room, and the use of a brougham for his marketing. She had 
chosen butlers and footmen, and had devised a hvery for the latter 
— darkest green, with black velvet collar and facings, black velvet 
small clothes, and black silk stockings. " It is a sombre Hvery," 
she wrote; "but the powder relieves it, and I think you will like 
the effect. Your men will wear silk stockings always, that is a 
point, and I have told your housekeeper to be very particular about 
their shoe-bucldes. Their shoes will be made in Bond Street, and 
will cost thirty shOlings a pair. Forgive me for troubling you witii 
these details ; but with your wealth your only chance of distinction 
is by nicety in minor points. Your house wiU be simply perfect. 
I went through the reception-rooms yesterday. The ceilings are 
painted in the style of the Ricardi Palace — a banquet in Olympus. 
Cobalt predominates in the drapery of the goddessess, who, although 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. lor 

Rubensesque, are quite unobjectionable. The eflect is brilliant, and 
harmonises admirably with the subdued amber and russet of the 
brocade hangings and chair covers. I long for you to see your 
liouse now all is coming together. I engaged your ^lajor Domo 
yesterday — a chance such as rarely falls in the way of a nouvemi, 
riche. He was fifteen years with Lord Hamperdonne, to whom he 
was guide, philosopher, and friend, rather than servant. It was he 
who rescued Hamperdonne from that odious engagement witli 
Dolores Drumio, the Spanish dancer. He has a genius for organ- 
ising every kind of entertainment ; and if he and your chef can onl v 
work harmoniously your establishment will go on velvet. You will 
see that I am not engaging many servants. Parton will be house 
steward, gi'oom of the chambers, and butler, with an xmder-butler 
and two footmen, a lad for cellar work, and a house messenger, so 
that your stablemen may never be called away from their work. 
For a bachelor, I think this personnel, with half a dozen women, 
quite sufiBcient. Anytliing further would mean display, rather than 
usefulness, and I'm sure you don't desire that." 

" How wise she is ! " thought Gerard, as he read this letter for the 
second time. "How deUghtful to have to deal with an accom- 
plished woman of the world instead of a sentimental girl ; and what 
a wife she wiU make for a man in my position, by-and-by, when 
poor Champion's time has come ! Beautiful, well-born, and full of 
tact and social knowledge. Could any man desire a more delightful 
companion? " Of her husband, Mrs. Champion wrote in a melan- 
choly strain. Mont Oriol had done him very httle good. He had 
allowed his work and his worries to follow him to the valleys of 
Auvergne. He had not taken that absolute rest which the doctors 
had so strenuously urged, and he was considerably worse than ho 
had been in the summer. The speciahst who had seen him then 
now talked of " Stock Exchange spine," which Edith feared was some 
kind of mental ailment. Her husband was depressed and restless, 
and there was an idea of sending him to St. Leonards till the end of 
the winter with a trained attendant, as well as his valet. 

" If he goes, I shall go with him," Mrs. Champion concluded, with 
the air of a Koman wife. " I must not allow pleasure or inclination 
to interfere with my duty to him. I should have infinitely preferred 
any part of the Riviera — even Mentone — to St. Leonards, which I 
detest ; but it will be some advantage to be near you, as I dare say 
you will be too much taken up with your new house to go to tlie 
South this year. By the way, have you any idea of the other 



I02 Gerard ; or, 

House ? A seat in Parliament would give you kudos, and our party 
wants all the strength it can get." 

'■^ Fas si hefe," thought Gerard, "I am not going to waste any 
portion of my scanty h'fe in an Ul-ventilated, malodorous, over- 
crowded bear-garden ! " 

He was to go to London on New Year's Day, his sister accom- 
panying him, delighted at the idea of the journey, and all the more 
dehghted since John Cumberland had made it convenient to travel 
on the same day, and by the same train. He preached his farewell 
sermon on St. Stephen's Day, and drew tears from many of his 
hearers by the pathos of his farewell. His congregation knew that 
the pathos was real, and that he had reaUy loved them, and worked 
for them as only love can work. Gerard had been glad to spend 
Christmas at home, for his mother's sake ; but despite his affection 
for both parents, and his tender regard for the associations of child- 
hood and early youth, the small domestic pleasures and twaddling 
recurrences to past years, the fuss about the home-grown turkey and 
the home-cured ham — ham cut from a pig of which the Rector 
talked as of a departed friend — the church decorations, the parochial 
festivities, the mothers' meetings, coal and blanket distributions, 
and exhibition of Christmas cards, bored him excessively. In the 
country life goes round like a wheel, and nothing but death or 
calamity can change the circle of infinitesimal events. In London 
there is always something new to be done or to be heard of — new 
fashions, new scandals, the unexpected in some form or other. 

Gerard was consumed by the feverish impatience of the " child 
who has new robes and may not wear them." That last week at 
the Rectory seemed illimitable. He wanted to be on the strong tide 
of life — to feel the swift river carrying him along — and here he 
seemed to be sitting on a vast stretch of level sand, from which ho 
but faintly saw the distant flood. Yet this was precisely the kind 
of existence he had been advised to lead — a life of placid monotony, 
passionless, uneventful. 

On his last night at the Rectory, and in one of his last talks with 
his mother, she asked him in a casual way if he had seen or heard 
anything more of Hester Davenport. 

"No; I have not ti'ied to find her. The attempt seemed too hope- 
less ; and after all, the face I saw was more a dream than a reahty ; 
yet I know it was Miss Davenport's face." 

" I don't understand, Gerard " 

" No, dearest," interrupted her son. " I must say to you as 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 103 

Hamlet said to his fellow- student, ' There are more things in heaven 
and ea th than ' you — or I — can quite account for. You must come 
to London, mother. London is full of revelations for any one who 
has been buried ahve for half a lifetime in a rustic Eectory. You 
will hear of new sciences, new religions. You wiU find Buddha 
placed shoulder to shoulder with Christ. You will find people 
discrediting the four evangehsts and pinning their faith upon 
'materializations.' You will find the cultured classes despising 
Dickens and making hght of Thackeray, in favour of the last smart 
young man who has written a smart story of three or four pages in 
a smart magazine. The old order is always changing. London is 
for ever new, for ever young. You will feel twenty years younger 
there than you do here." 

"Younger under a smoky sky, Gerard! Younger in a place 
where one must put on one's gloves before one can venture to pick 
a rose ! Yoimger among crowds of rushing people and over- worked 
cab-horses, and sickly town babies, whose poor httle faces make one 
miserable ! I shall be glad to be with you, dear ; but I love this 
sleepy old Rectory better than the finest house in Park Lane or 
Grosvenor Square." 

Gerard did not try to combat these benighted notions. His own 
face was set Londonwards early next morning, and he and Lilian 
were installed in the new house before afternoon tea. They had 
explored every room, and were ready to receive Mr. Cumberland 
and !Mrs. Champion at eight o'clock to a friendly Xew Year dinner 
— a snug ■parti carre at a round table in the breakfast-room, one 
side of which was all window, opemng into a winter-garden, where 
a fountain played in a low marble basin, encircled with camellias 
and palms. 

The shaded lamps gave a soft and tempered light. The colour- 
ing in this room was subdued and cool, pale bluish green for the 
most part, the walls the colour of a hedge-sparrow's Q^g, reheved 
by the warm sepia and Indian red of a few choice etchings. These, 
with a wonderful arrangement of peacock's feathers and celadon 
Sevres vases over the chimney-piece, were the only ornaments. 

" No quaint comers or ingle-nook, nothing Moorish or Japanese 
in all the house ; no copper or brass, or any one of the things I 
delight in," sighed ^Irs. Champion. " Mr. Larose has been horridly 
tyrannical. Yet I must confess he has succeeded. Your house is 
a creation." 

The service was perfection, every servant eager to please the new 



104 Gerard ; or, 

master, and the dinner was worthy of a company of gourmets, 
rather than of these four, who cared very little what they ate, and 
who were, some of them, too much absorbed in their own thoughts 
and feelings to know what they were eating. An oyster souffik. 
which would have evoked praises from Lucullus or Lord Alvanley, 
went round without comment or commendation. But if Mr. 
Hillersdon's friends did not talk about the dinner there was plenty 
of talk about other things. Edith Champion was full of offers to 
take LDian to her particular friends and her favourite tradespeople, 
during the few days she had left before going to St. Leonards with 
her invalid husband. 

" I want you to go to Madame St. Evi-emonde for your gowns," 
said Mrs. Champion. " She is the only woman in London who 
knows where a waist ought to begin and end — excuse my talking 
chiffons, Mr. Cumberland, we ought to keep that kind of thing for 
after dinner — but it is such a treat for a battered woman of the 
world like me to have a neophyte to mstruct. I should like to take 
you to my shoemaker, too, for he is rather a difficult person to deal 
with ; and if he don't take to you he won't even try to fit your 

foot." 

" If that is the way of London shoemakers I should buy my boots 
ready-made at the Stores," said Cumberland, grimly. 

" Are there ready-made shoes ? " Mrs. Champion asked inno- 
cently. " How terrible ! I know some people buy gloves in shops 
ready-made; but ready-made shoes must be too dreadful. They 
can't fit anybody." 

" Their particular merit is that they fit everybody," said Cumber- 
land. " It is only a question of size." 

" Oh, if people don't care about shape or style, or whether they 
have an instep or not, I suppose a ready-made boot or shoe would 
do " said Mrs. Champion, taking a philosophical tone. " They 
would keep out the wet. Only if one is to take a proper pride in 
one's clothes one must have them from the best makers. I could 
be content to go through life in a tweed gown ; but it must be made 
by Redfern or Felix." 

" I'm afraid your dressmaker would be a great deal too smart and 
too expensive for me, Mrs. Champion," Lilian answered quietly. 

" Too smart, too expensive — for Mr. Hillersdon's sister ! Why, 
yon will be expected to dress as well as the Princess of Wales. 
Your toilette will be under the fierce light that beats upon a 
millionaire. You will have to dress up to this house." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 105 

" I should be sorry to dress in a way that would be unsuited to a 
country clergyman's daughter." 

" Or to a London clergyman's promised wife," said John Cumber- 
land, stealing a tender look at the fair young face from under his 
strongly-marked brows. Those brief looks meant a world of love 
to Lilian. 

"Let her dress as plainly or as smartly as she pleases, Mrs. 
Champion," said Gerard, gaily ; " but if Madame St. Evremonde is 
the best dressmaker in London to Madame St. Evremonde she must 
go. While you are in this house, Lilian, you must look your 
prettiest for my sake ; but when you migrate to Greek Street you 
may wear a Quakeress's poke bonnet, or a Sister of Charity's 
hood." 

" Greek Street," exclaimed Mrs. Champion, in her most childish 
manner. " Where is Greek Street ? " 



CHAPTER X. 

"still one must lead some life beyond." 

The dull beguming of the year, before the opening of Parliament 
and the gi'adual awakening of London, passed like a dream. The 
delight of installation in the home that he had created for himself, 
and the novel sensation of squandering money were enough to keep 
Gerard Hillersdon occupied and happy ; while Lilian was divided 
between two absorbing duties. On the one side she had her brother, 
whom she dearly loved, and aU the pomps and vanities of this 
wicked world ; and on the other side she had her future husband, 
now fully established as Vicar of St. Lawrence's, and wanting her 
counsel and co-operation in every imdertaking. " I want the parish 
to be as much your parish as mine, Lilian," he said. " I want your 
mind and your hand to be in all things, great and small." 

So on one day Lilian was trudging up and down some of the 
dirtiest alleys in West Central London, deliberating and advising as 
to a Night Refuge for women and children, and on the next she was 



io6 Gerard ; or, 

■with her brother at Christie's, giving her opinion about a Reynolds 
or a Eaffaelle. 

Gerard was profuse in his offers of money, would, indeed, from 
his own purse have supplied all the needs of St. Lawrence's ; but 
Jack Cumberland exercised a restraining influence, and would only 
accept moderate benefactions — a hundred pounds for the new 
Refuge, a hundred for the Working Man's Institute, and fifty each 
for the Magdalen Rescue Society and Dispensary, two hundi-ed for 
the schools ; five hundred pounds in all. 

" It seems absurd that you should want money for anything while 
I have ever so much more than I want," remonstrated Gerard, 
toying with his open cheque-book. 

"You shall do something more for us a year or two hence, when 
you have familiarised yourself with your fortune, and have acquired 
a sense of proportion," said Cumberland, smiling at his eagerness. 
" At present you are hke a child with a new box of toys, who 
thinks that he can distribute them among his playfellows and yet 
have the boxful for himself. When you better know what money 
means you shall be our benefactor on a larger scale — always 
supposing you are stiU in the humour. In the meantime 
that five hundred pounds is a prodigious God-send, and will 
help us along capitally. I never hoped for such an excellent 
start." 

" I beUeve the fellow wants to keep his parish poor," Gerard said 
afterwards, in a confidential talk with his sister. 

" He doesn't want to sponge upon your fortune, Gerard, and he is 
afraid of pauperising his people by doing too much." 

"Pauperising? Ah, that's always the cry nowadays; but it 
would take as long a head as Henry Brougham's to find out where 
help ends and pauperisation begins. If the State were to feed the 
Board School children, yea, even with one substantial meal per 
diem, we are told that we should be teaching the parents to look to 
State aid, and to squander their wages on drink. I dare say it 
might work that way in a good many cases ; but if, on the other 
hand, we could succeed in rearing a healthy race the craving for 
drink might be lessened in the next generation." 

Hillersdon House was a success. Society flocked to the millionaire 
as flies go to the honey-pot. The Northern farmer's advice to his 
son is one of the chief points in social ethics. We all like to go 
where money is. There is a fascination in wealth and the luxury it 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 107 

can buy that only a Socrates can resist, and even Socrates went to 
rich men's houses, and smartened his rough attire for the feast. 
Society, which had always approved of Gerard Hillersdon, was on 
tiptoe to know what he would do with his money; that portion 
which envied him his wealth opining that he would run through this 
vast fortune in a year or two, while everybody had his own theory 
as to how he ought to spend it. 

As a social adviser there could be no one better than Roger 
Larose, architect, poet, painter, and man of fashion ; a man who 
seemed to have founded his style and manners upon the long- 
forgotten bucks of those golden days before the Eegency, when 
George, Prince of Wales, was young. 

" I call Roger Larose the Sleeping Beauty," said Reuben Gambler, 
"for he looks as if he had fallen asleep in some comer of the Cocoa 
Tree Club, at the close of the eighteenth century, in a bag-wig, a 
puce coat, and a frilled shirt, and as if he had never become 
reconciled to modern costume." 

Larose was an amiable enthusiast, full of pleasant whimsicalities, 
and Gerard, who was naturally indolent, allowed him full scope as 
a counsellor. 

" You must give parties," said Larose ; " it is useless having a fine 
house if you bury yourself alive in it ! You had better have bui]t 
yourself a mausoleum — not half a bad idea, by-the-by. If any dear 
old gentleman ever leaves me a few millions, I will build myself a 
pyramid, like Cheops, and live in it till I am ready for the embalmers 
— a pyramid in which I will receive only a few chosen friends — a 
pyramid in which I will give choice little dinners to those chosen 
ones. Yes, my dear Gerard, you must give parties— breakfasts, 
luncheons, dinners, musical evenings. It is written in the stars that 
you are to provide a good many of the amusements of this ensuing 
season. I hope you like the notion of being a social centre, Miss 
Hillersdon ? " said Roger, turning to Lilian, with an insinuating 
smile. Not a handsome man, by any means, this Larose, but with 
a delicate pallor, attenuated features, and a languid smile which 
women pronounced sympathetic. 

"It is rather alarming, but I want Gerard to be happy and 
amused," Lilian replied brightly ; " and Mr. Cumberland will help 
us to receive people. He was immensely popular m Devonshire." 

" My dear young lady, Devonshire isn't London— but, of course, 
Mr. Cumberland is channing, and I hear people are going to St. 
Lawrence's to hear his sermons," 



io8 Gerard ; or, 

"People!" exclaimed Lilian; "why, the church is crammed 
every Sunday at all the services." 

" Ah ; but 1 mean people — people like Lord "Wordsworth, and 
Mr. Lemaitre, the actor; people hke Lady Hyacinth Pulteney — 
people who criticise and talk. If that goes on, Mr. Cumberland 
-will be an acquisition at your parties. But, my dear Gerard," pur- 
sued Eoger, solemnly, " the great point is food. People will go to 
you to be fed. Feed them. You will have a luxury of flowers, of 
course; Mrs. Smith — the Mrs. Smith — will decorate your rooms 
and dinner-table. People expect the lust of the eye to be gratified ; 
but that is, after all, a minor point. Your iced asparagus, ortolans, 
quails, plovers' eggs — those are the essentials." 

" And, as a reward for my hospitahty, my house will be called 
the Restaurant Hillersdon, or Cafd Gerard. People will eat, drink, 
and be merry — all at my expense." 

" No, my dear fellow. You will not be laughed at. You have 
not made your money out of Paissian hides or American manures. 
You do not come to us with inadequate aspu-ates, fresh from the 
Australian backwoods. You are not laboriously conning the alphabet 
of civilised life. You are one of us. You have graduated in all our 
follies and vices. You are an adept in all our conventionalities — 
our mispronunciations, affectations, and jargon of all kinds. You 
Avill do. You are not a new man. You are only that nice boy, 
Gerard Hillersdon, plus two millions." 

Hillersdon, perhaps, hardly needed this assurance. He might 
affect the misanthrope, and preach as bitterly as Tiraon in his cave. 
He loved his fellow-men just well enough to enjoy bringing them 
about him, and to feel that splendour would be a poor thing if there 
were nobody to admire it. Again, the science of entertaining was 
in itself full of interest. Every man who has mixed ever so little 
in society believes that he can give a dinner — assort his guests and 
revise a menu — ^better than any one else. Hillersdon was not 
without that delusion, and society fostered it by praise and appre- 
ciation. His luncheons, which were more frequent at Hillersdon 
House than any other form of entertainment, were voted perfect — 
perfect as to the choice of guests, the harmonious blending of divers 
opinions, professions, crazes — perfect as to all material elements — 
the meniL never too elaborate or too long — the choicest luxuries 
given with an air of simplicity which disguised their costliness. 
The popiilarity of liis luncheons encouraged Mr. Hillersdon to revive 
a somewhat exploded form of hospitality. He began a series of 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 109 

Sunday breakfasts, to which only those were bidden whose wider 
and less orthodox views made the morning service of the Anglican 
Church a purely optional matter — to go or not to go, as the trained 
choir or the sensational preacher might invite ; — unholy breakfasts, 
at which the literary agnostic or the disciple of the latest fad aired 
his or her opinions; breakfasts, the very thought of which made 
Lihan shudder, as she passed the breakfast-room door on her way 
to the victoria, which was to carry her to that little heaven below, 
where Jack Cumberland's choir of working-men, trained by himself, 
were to sing, and where Jack was to preach one of his heart-stirring 
sermons. She heard the voices and laughter of her brother's 
friends as she passed the breakfast-room door, and her heart sank 
within her at the thought of what small significance Sunday now 
had in the life of that brother. She loved him, and she began 
to fear that he had cast in his lot among the unbelievers, among 
men who ridicule the idea of a Personal God, who can discover 
nowhere in this universe the necessity for any higher form of being 
than their own, who think that through illimitable cycles creation 
has been climbing upwards to its ultimate outcome, Man, who has 
made gods, and shaU unmake them. 

"Gerard, dear, is Sunday after Sunday to go by without your 
going to chmch ? " Lihan asked, one sunny April morning, when 
she found her brother smoking a cigarette in the winter-garden, and 
looking idly at the Marechal Niel roses, while the servants in the 
adjoining room were puttmg their finishing touches to a breakfast- 
table laid for eight. 

" My darling, I shouldn't be any the better for church, or the 
cimrch any the better for me. I am a little out of harmony witli 
the Christian idea, just now. Either I have outgrown it, or I am 
passing through a phase of doubt ; but if you really want me to 
sacrifice to the respectabilities I will go to St. Lawi'ence with you 
next Sunday. One of Jack's rousing sermons will do me good. 
They are capital tonics for a relaxed brain ! " 

" Years ago you used to go to church every Sunday, and some- 
times twice on a Simday." 

'' Years ago I was very yoimg, Lihan. I went to church for 
various reasons — first, to please my mother ; and next, because the 
Rector would have made unpleasant remarks at luncheon if he had 
missed me from the family pew; next again, because I liked the 
sleepy old church and the sleepy service, and the famihar faces, and 
my father's short sensible sermon ; and last of all, because I had not 



no Gerard; or, 

begun to think of how much or how little faith in spiritual things 
there was in me." 

" And all that the cleverest people in London can teach you is 
not to beHeve," said Lilian, sadly. 

" My dear girl, the clever people have very Httle to do with my 
disbelief. The change is in myself. It came about as spontaneously 
and mysteriously as cotton bUght on an apple-tree. One day you 
see the tree flourishing, the leaves clean and fuU of sap ; and the 
nest day they are all curled up and withered, as if a fire had passed 
over them, and the incipient fruit is eaten of worms." 5 

" The carriage is at the door, ma'am," announced one of those 
perfectly matched footmen whom Mrs. Champion had selected, 
magnificent, impassible beings, who looked and moved and spoke as 
if they had been cradled amidst patrician surroundings. ! 

Lilian drove away in the simshine, heavy at heart for the brother 
she loved. She saw him wath the illimitable power of wealth, sur- 
rounded by all the snares and temptations of a world in which whim 
and pleasure are the only laws that govern mankind. She saw him 
cut adrift from the anchor in which she believed, sailing away from 
the safe harbour of the Christian faith, to the bleak and barren sea 
of scornful and sullen materiahsm; a gloomy agnosticism which 
looks with contempt upon every spiritual iustiact, and laughs at 
every Heavenward aspiration as the delusion of children and fools, i 

While Lihan drove along Piccadilly, to the sound of various 
church bells, and past a population setting churchward, Mr. Hil- 
lersdon's Sunday visitors were slowly dropping in to the eleven 
o'clock breakfast — a meal which had but one di-awback, according 
to PiOger Larose. It made luncheon an impossibility. 

One of the guests of the day, Mr. Reuben Gambler, was a youthful 
novelist, who had made all vice his province, and whose delight was 
to shock the susceptibilities of the circulating hbrary. His books 
were naturally popular, and as in the case of a nervous rider with a 
restive horse, people were impressed more by the idea of what ho 
might do than of what he had actually done. He was hvely and 
eccentric, and a favourite with Hillersdon and his circle. 

" I've brought a particular friend of mine, who tells me he knows 
you well enough to come without an invitation," said Gambler, 
entering the winter-garden unannounced, from the adjoining draw- 
ing-room into which lie had been duly ushered. A low unctuous 
laugh soundecJfrom the other side of the half-raised portiere as he 
spoke, a laugh which Gerard instantly recognised.^ 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 1 1 

" Your friend is Mr. JermjTi," he said quickly. 

" Yes — how did you guess ? " 

" 1 heard him laugh ; there is nobody else on earth who laughs 
like that." 

" But you think there is some one down there who does," said 
Gambier, pointing significantly to the gi'Oimd. " A strange laugh, 
ain't it ? but very cheery — sounds as if mankind were a stupendous 
joke, and as if Jermyn were in the secret of all the springs that 
work this little world, and knew when it was going to burst up. I 
believe he knows more about it all than Sir William Thomson, or 
any of those scientific swells who tell us what the sun is made of, 
and how long they can warrant the earth to last." 

Jermyn's head appeared under the old brocade curtain — a curtain 
made from the vestments of Italian priests, the rich spoil of a 
mediaeval sacristy — a curious face seen against the background of 
purple and gold, clear cut, brilliant in colouring, high narrow brow 
recedmg curiously, sharp nose, Hght grey eyes, and smiUng mouth, 
displaying regular white teeth. 

He paused for a moment or two, wjth the curtain in his hand, 
looking out of the purple and gold, then with a little gush of 
laughter came across the marble floor and shook hands with his 
host. 

" Surprised to see me, ain't you, Hillersdon ? " 

"No; I have only been sui-prised not to see j'ou. And now 
answer me a question. Where the devil are those rooms of yom's 
in which you gave me supper on the night after Lady Fridoline's 
party?" 

" What ! Have you been hunting me up there ? " 

"Hunting! Yes, it was a decided case of hunting. I don't 
think the shrewdest detective in London could find those rooms of 
yours." 

"I dare say not, unless he knew where to look for them. I 
never tell anybody my address, but I sometimes take a friend home 
to supper — a man who is too fiill of himself and his own afifairs to 
observe the way by which he goes." 

Another visitor came into the winter-garden, and then Hillersdon 
went into the next room to receive the rest of the party, which was 
Boon complete. 

The ninth guest proved a success. Most people were interested 
in the Fate-reader, although most people pretended to make very 
light of his art. That searching gaze of his, looking into a man's 



112 Gerard ; or, 

soul tlarougli his face, had an uncanny influence that fascinated as 
much as it repelled. He had made such strange hits by those fate- 
reading prophecies of his, and foretold changes and events in the 
lives of men, of which those men had themselves no foreshadowing. 
What was this power which enabled him thus to prognosticate? 
He called it insight ; but the word, though both vague and com- 
prehensive, was not sufficient to explain a gift hitherto the peculiar 
property of the necromancer and the charlatan — never before exer- 
cised airily and gratuitously, by a man who was received in society. 
Whatever Mr. Jermyn's means might be, whether large or small, 
he had never been known to make money by the exercise of his 
occult power. 

He was leaving with the rest of HUlersdon's friends before one 
o'clock, when his host detained him. 

" I want to have a quiet talk with you," said Gerard ; " we have 
not met since my altered fortunes." 

" True," answered Jermyn, hghtly, " but I prophesied the turn 
in your luck, did I not, old fellow? " 

"You hinted at possibilities— you set me on the track of an old 
memory — that scene in the railway station at Nice." 

" Lucky dog. Half the young men in London are green with 
envy when they talk about you. An instant's peril — and a lifetime 
of boundless wealth." 

" There is no such thing as boundless wealth except in America," 
said Gerard. " It is a phrase to be used only about a man who 
owns a silver mine. My income is fixed, and " 

"Limited," cried Jermyn, interrupting; "a decidedly hmited 
income. Is it eighty or ninety thousand a year, or does it run to 
a hundred? I believe were I in your shoes I should be thinking 
about economising. I should have a holy horror of the workhouse. 
One loses all sense of proportion under the weight of two millions." 

"There is a good deal of spending in it, certainly, if a man 
knows how to spend judiciously. Do you like my house ? " 

"I consider it perfect. You have had the discretion not to 
follow the prevailing fashion. That is your strong point. You 
have not gone too far, either, in expense or splendoui-. You have 
put on the brake at the right moment." 

" Come and see my den," said Gerard. 

He led the way to the upper floor, opened a door at the back 
of the house, and ushered Jermyn into a room with folding doors, 
opening into a second room. The two rooms exactly reproduced 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 1 3 

those Inn chambers where he had seen the vision of Hester 
Davenport. Colour, form, material — all had been carefully copied, 
Gerard's memory of that night and its surroundings being more 
vivid than any other memory of his past life. There were the 
same curtains of sombre velvet, darkest gi-een in the hghts, and 
black in the shadows, the same Oriental carpet, of rich, but 
chastened, hues, the same, or almost the same, Italian pictures— 
a Judas by Titian— a wood-nymph by Guido, the same dehcatcly- 
carved Chippendale secretaire and blackwood cabinet, the same 
touches of colour amidst the gloom. 

" My very rooms ! by all that's wonderful ! " cried Jermyn. 
" What a close ob&*3rver of still life you must be ! You have got 
everything — except me." 

"The black marble bust? Yes, that is wanting; but I mean to 
have that before I have done." 

"Well, ray dear Hillersdon, imitation is the sincerest flattery, 
and I feel intensely flattered." 

" A whim — a fancj'' that pleased me for a moment — that is all 
it means. Those after-midnight hours in your chambers marked 
the turning-point in my life. I had made up my mind to shoot 
myself that very night. The pistol was ready loaded in my pistol- 
case. I had thought it all out, and had made up my mind. God 
knows how you guessed my secret so readily." 

" My dear fellow, your mind was steeped in suicide. There was 
no secret in the matter — to an observer with the slightest claim to 
insight. I saw despair, defiance, recklessness, and the gloom which 
means only one thing — self-destruction." 

" And while I was at the opera, listening to the doom of Don 
Juan, the everlasting type of spendthrift and profligate — while I 
was sitting in your chambers, the lawj'er's letter was lying on my 
table within a few feet of the pistol-case — the letter tliat lieralded 
the announcement of millions. That night was like a bad dream— 
and it was not until many days afterwards that I was able to shake 
off that dream-feeling, and realise my good luck." 

" Good luck, with a vengeance," laughed Jermyn. "You have 
been lucky in more ways than one — lucky in love as well as in 
gold; lucky in the fast coming release of the woman you love." 

'"I don't quite follow you," Gerard said coldly, resenting this 
allusion, even from a man who professed to know everybody's 
business. 

'•Don't pretend to be angry with mc for touching upon an open 

I 



1 1 4 Gerard ; or, 

secret. Everybody knows of your devotion to one bright particular 
star; and everybody "will be inclined to congratulate you when 
the worthy stockbroker gets his order of release. Life can be of 
very little value to him, poor fellow. I saw him dragged about in 
a bath-chair on the parade at St. Leonards a month ago, a dismal 
^v^eck, and now I am told he is in retreat at Finchley — the begin- 
ning of the end." 

Gerard smoked his cigarette in silence. The conversation was 
evidently displeasing to him. 

The beginning of the end ? Yes, it might be that the end was 
near ; and if it were so, what better could he desire than to many 
the woman he had so ardently desired to many just four years ago ; 
the capable, accomplished woman whom all the town admired, and 
who was rich enough to be in no wise influenced by his wealth. 
She was not less beautiful than she had been in her girlhood — more 
beautiful, rather, with a beauty which was only now ripening to its 
perfect development — a ruddier gold upon her hair, a finer curve 
of cheek and throat. People were never tired of telling him that 
Mrs. Champion was the handsomest woman in London. 

"I want to ask you another question," Gerard began, when he 
had smoked out the cigarette. " Was I utterly mad that night in 
your rooms, or did I see a vision of a girl at a sewing-machine ? " 

"You were not mad by any means. Your conversation was 
both rational and logical. It is quite possible that you saw a 



vision." 



" Produced by some trickery of yours, no doubt. How was it 
done?" 

" If I were master of any of the black arts, do you think I would 
tell you the secrets of my trade ? What if I willed that you should 
recall the loveliest face you had ever seen ? Would that account 
for the phenomenon, do you think ? " 

" I don't know ; the face was certainly one I had seen before ; 
but I was quite unable to identify it without assistance, therefore 
one would suppose it had faded out of my mind, and could hardly 
be willed into vivid actuaUty by you." 

" You make no allowance for the submerged identity — that inner 
ego beneath the outer husk of existence — that hidden nature which 
keeps its fancies and thoughts locked in darkness, perhaps for years, 
to start into light at a touch of a kindred spirit — that mysterious 
being dormant in us from the dawn of manhood, which only awakens 
at the call of love, and which is at the root of that other mystery we 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, i r 5 

call love at first sight — love, passionate, all-absorbing, strong aa 
death, bom in an hour." 

"If not an Adam at his birth he is no love at all," quoted 
Gerard. 

And then he remembered how in the beaten track of life his love 
of Edith Champion had grown up ; how he had met her at dinners, 
and tennis-parties, and cricket matches, and afternoon teas, and had 
danced with her three nights a week, and heard her praised by men 
and women ; until gradually, out of these commonplace elements he 
had come to think her the first necessity of his existence, and to 
follow her, and devote himself to her. No, there had been nothing 
romantic there — no mysterious flame, wrapping him round in an 
instant, sudden, invincible. He loved as men and women love in 
what is called good society — reasonably, with a love that does not 
burst bonds, or even violate conventionalities. 

He thought a good deal about Edith Champion during that April 
afternoon, long after Jermyn had left him, and when he was saunter- 
ing and dreaming alone in his little grove of lime and chestnut, 
v;here the purple leaf buds and newly opening leaves were faintly 
fanned by a soft west wind, and where, above the interwoven 
branches, the sky showed deeply blue — one of those peerless spring 
afternoons which bring with them, in their own fresh youthfulness, 
a sense of reviving youth in the frame and mind of man — factitious, 
but delightful while it lasts. 

He thought of the woman to whom he had bound himself, and 
for the first time since he had given her his solemn promise of 
fidelity he felt the shadow of doubt creeping across that sunlit path 
which an indulgent Fate, granting him all things to be desired of 
man, had marked out for him. He told himself that he was one 
of the spoilt children of Fortune ; and he hated himself because, 
like the spoilt child of nursery story-books, he was inclined to 
quarrel with his toys. 

He had been living amongst men whose master is the spirit that 
always denies. He had steeped himself in that pessimism of small 
minds which pervades societj', and which is the chosen gospel of 
the men who profess to be in advance of their fellow-men. A dull, 
dead hopelessness came down upon him, Uke a dark cloud, in the 
midst of this palace of art which he had built for his soul, and the 
palace seemed no better than a prison-house. 

He and ^Irs. Champion had met less frequently dm-ing the last 
month, for Edith, who was warm-hearted and kindly natured, despite 



ii6 Gerard ; or, 

her essentially modern estimate of life, had deemed it her duty to 
withdraw in some measure from society, now that her husband was 
the inmate of a private lunatic asylum. She drove to Finchley three 
times a week, and spent an hour or two with the invalid, sometimes 
driving with him in the doctor's capacious landau, while her own 
horses rested, sometimes walking beside his wheel-chair in the garden, 
and listening patiently while he rambled confusedly through the 
Stock Exchange Hst, from Berthas and Buenos Ayres First Prefer- 
ence to Electric Lighting Companies and Papafuego Loans ; the 
shattered mind retracing trodden paths, and finding pleasure in 
familiar sounds, though memory was almost a blank. Mr. Champion 
was placable, satisfied with his surroundings, and expressed no 
impatience of restraint, nor desire to be taken back to his own 
house. Indeed, it seemed to his wife that he had forgotten every 
detail of his past existence, except the shibboleth of the Money 
Market. 

In this dismal state it would have been less than charity to 
pray for the prolongation of his life. Edith did all in her power, 
by frequent supervision and by unde^iating interest, to secure the 
patient's well-being. He had his old and trusted servant -nith him, 
as a check upon the service of the doctor's attendants. A wife who 
had loved him passionately could have done no more than Editli 
was doing. 



CHAPTER XI. 

" EARTH BEIKG SO GOOD, WOULD HEAVEN SEEM BEST ? " 

Perhaps in every life there is one perfect interlude — one long sweet 
interval set somewhere in the midst of the cares and tribulations 
of commonplace existence, a period in which trouble and sorrow 
are unknown, and all the colours of earth and sky are deepened 
into supernatural beauty. The period of a young girl's engagement 
to the man of her choice — if she be only single-minded and free 
from jealoiis fears — is one of these halcyon days — a time of peace 
and happiness, the winds and waves of trouble all lying at rest, while 
the sea-birds, joy and hope, are hatching. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 1 7 

Lilian HLllersdon was steeped in the sunlight and the music of 
that enchanting time. The man to whom she had plighted her life 
seemed to realise her highest ideal of manly excellence. He satisfied 
eveiy need of her nature. 

She was deeply religious, and she found in her futm'e husband a 
faith that could apprehend and discuss every theory and doubt of 
the age, and yet stand sti'ong as a tower. She was tender-hearted, 
benevolent, sympathetic, taking the suSerings of humanity as a 
portion of her own life, an ever-present son'ow in the midst of her 
own joy, and she found in John Cumberland a pity as tender as her 
own, and a benevolence of a far wider grasp. She could look up 
to bim with meek reverence, as the women of old looked up to 
their mailed warriors, the men who went out to the unknown land 
to fight for the sepulchre of their Lord. She could revere him, and 
yet be utterly happy and light-hearted in his companionship, for 
his religion was, like Kingsley's, the gospel of cheerfulness, and 
his most ardent desire was to get the greatest sum of happiness out 
of this world for himself and others. 

The one shadow on her life was the fact that her brother had 
wantonly shut himself outside that fold where she would have 
gathered him, with all the precious things of her life ; but when 
she told Jack Cumberland her fears and regrets, he smiled them 
away, and comforted her with his broad view of a young man'.s 
foolishness. 

" He is only going through that phase of unbehef which most 
men have to sufl:er at some period of their Hves," he said. " He 
will not be prayed or preached into happier ideas. The best thing 
you and I can do is to leave him alone with his opinions till he finds 
out how barren and joyless this world is while it means the whole, 
and how much more comprehensible when we accept it for what it 
is — a single round upon the ladder of everlasting life. In the mean- 
time, if we can interest him in philanthropic schemes, and the making 
of Christian England, we shall do a good deal." 

" He has promised to make the round of our parish with mother 
next week," said Lilian. 

Mrs. Hillersdon's much-talked-ot visit to her son's house had 
been deferred from one cause and another imtil April was nearly 
over ; but when that pleasant month was at its best she appeared 
upon the scene, fresh and smiling as one of the glebe meadows on a 
sunny morning, and escorted by the Eector, who was to spend only 
three days in town, before returning westward to visit old friends, 



ii8 Gerard; or, 

and to preach charity sermons at Stroud and at Bath on his way 
home. 

The mother was full of admiration of her son's surroundings, and 
of the pretty rooms allotted to Lilian, in whose future home she was 
even more keenly interested. While the Rector was in London, 
the time was devoted to picture-galleries, concerts, the Park, and 
society, with the exception of a somewhat hurried survey of Mr. 
Cumberland's church, vicarage, and schools ; but when Mr. Hillers- 
don had departed upon his round of visits, Lilian took complete 
possession of her mother, and most of their time was spent in the 
neighbourhood of Soho, both mother and daughter preferring the 
simple luncheon provided by Jack Cumberland's plain cook and 
middle-aged house-maid, in the sober oak-panelled dining-room in 
Greek Street, to the elaborate inventions of tlie chef at Hillersdon 
House. The mother was never tired of inspecting her daughter's 
future home, or of discussing that important question of household 
linen, with all its scope for variety of material and fine sewing. 
Most delightful was it also to join Lihan and her lover in their 
rambles after furniture, books, and curios, wherewith to make the 
new home more and more homelike — the long drives to queer old 
brokers' shops to examine some gem of the Chippendale or Sheraton 
period, entangled in a dusty labyrinth of rubbish. It was curious 
how to these two women there was more real raptm-e in a couple 
of shield-backed chairs of the wheat-ear pattern, unearthed at a 
remote broker's, than in all the chastened splendour and carefully 
thought out luxury of Hillersdon House ; indeed, there was to Mrs. 
Hillersdon's simple mind — chastened by long years of tranquil 
inactivity, sobered by the sorrows of a country parish — some latent 
feeling of distrust which saddened her in the midst of her son's 
brilliant surroundings. The change in his fortunes was too sudden 
and too intense. Unconsciously she echoed the foreboding of Solon 
when Croesus exhibited his magnificence before the calm gaze of 
wisdom. She looked at her son, radiant, animated, leading the 
conversation at a table where all the guests were men of mark, and 
all the women beauties or wits, and the flush upon his cheek seemed 
the hectic of disease, the light in his eye too restless for health. 
She questioned him with keenest anxiety after one of these brilliant 
dinners. 

" Are you not doing too much, Gerard ? " she asked tenderly, 
"burning the candle of life at both ends? " 

" My dear mother, candles were made to burn. If one must be 



D 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 119 

either a flame or a lump of tallow I would rather be the flame — 
though, no doubt, the unlighted tallow would last a gi-eat deal 
longer. I dare say we seem to be taking life prestissimo after your 
gentle andante movement in Devonshire. But a man who has no 
financial cares can stand a little racketing. I used to take a great 
deal more out of myself in the days when the thought of my tailor's 
bill, or the image of my landlord's sullen face scowling at me from 
the half-open door of his back parlour, would come between me and 
the roses and raptures of a Belgravian ball-room." 

" But you have financial cares of another kind, Gerard," answered 
his mother, in her grave, sweet voice. " You have the disposal of 
a great fortune — talents for which you must account by-and-by." 

" At least, admit that I have not buried them in a napkin — unless 
it is a dinner napkin," laughed Gerard. "What did you think of 
that chaufroid of quails? commonplace, I fear; everybody gives 
quails at this season ; the London memi becomes as monotonous as 
that of the Israelites in the wilderness ; but the lobster souffle was 
iced to perfection." 

"Well, I won't try to talk seriously to you to-m'ght; you will 
only laugh at my old-fashioned ideas. I was brought up to think 
of riches as something held in trust for one's feUow-creatures." 

" You were brought up by the ideal squire and squiress. Yes, I 
remember my grandfather, who spent every sixpence he could spare 
from the mere bread and cheese of this life, upon buUding cottages 
for his farm labourers and improving the di'ainage of old-fashioned 
homesteads, and who was considered a tyrannical landlord by way 
of recompense — and my grandmother, who tramped up and down 
muddy lanes, and penetrated foul-smelling cabins, and dressed sore 
legs, and read to the sick aud the blind, and was generally spoken 
of as an ofBcious, domineering person. Is that the kind of life you 
want me to lead, mother? " 

" No, dear ; that was charity upon a small scale, and under 
difficulties. Y'^ou can do some great work." 

" Only show me what there is for me to do, mother, and I will 
do it. There is Jack Cumberland yonder, who knows that my 
surplus income is at his service, but who is too proud to be helped, 
except iu the most insignificant way. Shall I build him a church, 
or shall I endow an almshouse vast enough to hold all the elderly 
paupers in his parish? I am ready to give anything or to do any- 
thing. If I had any treasure specially dear to my heart, I would 
surrender it, as Folycrates threw his ring into the sea." 



I20 Gerard; or, 

" All, dearest, I know your heart is in the right place," said the 
mother, drawing nearer to the low chair in which her son was 
reclining, his head lying back upon the amber cushions, his cheek 
pale with the exhaustion of an animated evening, " but I am grieved 
to think that in a life which might be so happy — and so useful — 
there is one sad want." 

"What is that, mother?" 

" The want of religious convictions. Your sister tells me that 
you never go to church now, that Christ is no longer your master 
and your guide, but that you and your friends talk of our blessed 
Lord as a village philosopher in advance of his age, who uncon- 
sciously reproduced the aspirations of Plato and the morals of 
Buddha. You used to be such a firm believer, Gerard, in the days 
when you came home from Marlborough, so fresh, and frank, and 
joyous, and when you and I used to have long Sunday talks together 
in the woods between luncheon and evening service." 

" Ah, mother, those were the days when life was a picture and 
not a problem ; the days before 1 began to think. I dare say I 
shall be just as good a believer again by-and-by, when I am old 
enough to leave off thinking." 



CHAPTER XII. 

"for such TmXGS MUST BEGIN SOME DAT." 

Mr. Cumbeul.vnd's most energetic coadjutor in the improvement 
of his new parish was Lady Jane Blenheim, who had worked in 
that parisli for many years, and who was the head and front of 
a club and home for working- women, that stood almost within tlie 
shadow of the old church of St. Lawrence. Lady Jane had seen 
vicars and curates come and go. She liad seen good and foithful 
shepherds; she had seen those who scarce knew how to hold a 
sheep-hook ; and she was quick to recognise the right stamp of man 
in the new incumbent. She entered heartily into all his projected 
improvements, and gave the hand of friendsliip to his intended 
wife; while the Vicar on his side ardently espoused all the 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 121 

cnlliusiasms of the lady, and lent his musical gifts to those social 
evenings at the club which it was Lady Jane's delight to inaugurate 
and superintend. To have as head of the parish a man with a 
strong brain and a fine baritone voice, supported by an extensive 
repertoire from both oratorio and opera, was more than she had ever 
hoped, and she gave the new Vicar her friendship and her counsel 
in unstinted measure. She was a familiar visitor in the dreariest 
ground-floor dens, and in the most miserable garrets %vithin the 
district, and she could tell him a great deal about his neediest 
parishioners, who, although they frequently shifted from one 
wretched lodging to another, did not often wander far afield, indeed 
for the most part revolved within a narrow circle, keeping the old 
burial-ground of St. Lawrence as their centre, and the church tower 
as their landmark, a landmark which sometimes served to guide the 
feet of the Saturday night reveller, too far gone in Hquor to read the 
names of the streets, or recognise minor indications. 

To please his sister and her betrothed, Gerard interested himself 
in Lady Jane's club, and excused himself from an engagement at 
one of the most distinguished houses in London, where hospitaUty 
was a fine art, and where Cabinet Ministers were as common as 
strawberries in July, in order to eat boiled salmon and roast lamb 
in Jack Cumberland's dining-room, where Lady Jane and his sister 
made up the party of four. His mother had gone back to Devon- 
shire, satiated with the sights of London, and loaded with gifts from 
her millionaire son, costly trifles and new inventions for the comfort 
or decoration of drawing-room and morning-room, as yet unknown 
and undreamed of by the shopkeepers of Exeter. 

He was not sorry to give up a ducal dinner-party, albeit his card 
of invitation bristled with Royalties. He had been tolerabl}'' familiar 
with all that London can offer in the way of pleasure and dissipation 
before he came into his fortime. He stood now upon a higher grade 
of the steps that approach tlie throne, but the palace was the saniu 
palace, the lights, music, flowers, lovely women were the same thac 
he had looked upon for half a dozen seasons, when he was a nobody. 
He would have liked to have had a new world — to have had a gate 
open for him into a land where all things were new. If he had 
been able to walk more than half a dozen miles without feeling 
tired, he would have started for Central Africa. He had serious 
thoughts of Japan, Ceylon, or even Burmah — but while an inner 
self yearned for untrodden lands, the commonplace, work-a-day self 
clung to ^layfair and its civilisation — to the great city in which for 



122 Germ'd ; or, 

the man with any pretension to be "smart" there is only one 
hatter, one boot-maker, tailor, carriage-builder, one kind of letter- 
paper, one club, and one perfume possible ; for be it observed that 
although the really smart man may be a member of twenty clubs, 
there is only one that he considers worthy of him — that one from 
which the black ball has excluded the majority of his particular 
friends. 

This little dinner in Soho, served by the neat parlour-maid, in 
the sombre oak-panelled parlour, this talk with Lady Jane of the 
ways and works of girls who made jam, and girls who made tailors' 
trimmings, was almost as good as a glimpse of a new country. All 
things here were new to the man who, since he left the University, 
had Uved only amongst people who either were or pretended to be 
of the mode, modish. 

The stories he heard to-night of sin and sorrow, good and bad, 
brutal crime, heroic effort, tender self-sacrifice, in a world given 
over to abject poverty, with all the lights and shadows of these 
lowly lives, touched and interested him more than he could have 
supposed possible. His heart and his fancy had not been brought 
BO near the lives of the masses since he read, with choking throat 
and tear-dimmed eyes, Zola's story of the lower deeps in that 
brilliant Paris of which he, Gerard Hillersdon, knew only the out- 
ward glitter and garish colouring. Behind the boulevards and the 
cafds, the theatres and the music halls, there is always this other 
world where everybody whose eyes open on the light of God's day 
is foredoomed a " lifer," sentenced to hard labour, and with but 
faintest hope of a ticket-of-leave after years of patient work. To 
Gerard, conscious of wealth in superabundance, these stories of 
sordid miseries, agonies which a five-pound note might cure, or 
fatal diseases, incurable for ever, which a Httle ease and a httle 
comfort might have averted, seemed doubly dreadful — dreadful as 
a reproach to every rich man in the city of London. And j^et to 
try and alter these things, he told himself, would be like trying to 
turn the tide of the St. Lawrence, above the falls of Niagara. Were 
he to cast all his fortune into this great gulf of poverty, there would 
be one millionaire the less, and for the masses an almost impercep- 
tible gain. But he resolved, sitting in this sombre parlour, with the 
simset of a fine May evening glowing on the polished oak panels, as 
on deep water — he resolved that these stories of hard hves should 
not have been told him in vain — that he would do some great thing, 
when once he could decide upon the thing that was most needed — 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 123 

to lessen the measure of perpetual want. Whether lodging-house 
or hospital, club or refuge, reformatory or orphanage, something 
would he create ; something which would soothe his own conscience 
and satisfy his mother's piety. 

The dinner was all over before eight o'clock, and the little party 
left the Vicarage on foot to go to a hall in the neighbourhood which 
had been lent for a meeting of the choirs formed by the various 
women's clubs in London. The concert and competition had begun 
when the Vicar's party entered the lighted hall, and the building 
was crowded in every part; but seats had been kept for Mr. 
Cumberland and his friends in a central position in front of the 
platform. 

The choirs were ranged in a semicircle, hke the spectators in a 
Greek theatre. There were eight choirs, numbering in all some- 
thing over two hundred girls, and each choir wore a sash of a 
particular colour from shoulder to waist. These bright scarves 
across the sombre dresses, all following the same line, gave an 
appearance of uniformity to the whole costume. The eye hardly 
noted the dingy browns, or rusty blacks, the well-worn olives, or 
neutral greys of cheap, hard-wearing gowns. The bright faces, the 
neatly dressed hair— with its varied colouring, from raven black, 
thi'ough all the shades of brown and ruddy gold, to palest flaxen — 
the blue, and yellow, and green, and rose, and violet sashes filled 
the hall with life and colour. 

Seen thus in a mass of smiling humanity the clubs of London 
seemed to have sent out a bevy of beauties. The general effect 
was excellent ; and when all the voices burst forth in a great gush 
of melody, as the united choirs attacked Mendelssohn's " Greeting," 
Gerard felt the sudden thrill of sjonpathy which brings unbidden 
tears to the eyes. 

After that burst of harmony, in which all the choirs sang 
together, there came other part-songs by separate choirs. One of 
these by the members of a club at Chelsea, which called itself some- 
what ambitiously the St. Cecilia, struck Gerard as a marked advance 
upon the others. They sang Schubert's " Wanderer," arranged as 
a part-song, with English words, and among the many voices there 
were tones of purest quality which went to Gerard HiUersdon's 
heart, and moved him more than the new tenors and much heralded 
sopranos from Italy, America, and Australia had been able to do of 
late. Lideed, there had been nights at the opera when he, who 
was passionately fond of music, had begun to fancy that he had left 



124 Germ'd ; or, 

ofif caring for it; that one may get beyond music as one gets beyond 
so many other pleasures; that even to that pure and perfect 
enjoyment there may come a season of satiety. 

To-night those famiHar notes thrilled him; those fresh young 
voices pealing out over the crowded hall awakened in him a rapture 
of humanity, a longing to be one with this world of humble toilers, 
this world of struggles and of cares, in which the pleasures were so 
simple and so few. This was a gala night, no doubt, for all these 
girls. To stand on yonder platform, to wear those bright-coloured 
sashes, and mingle their voices in tuneful harmonies, meant a festival. 
He thought of the girls he met in society, the girls steeped to the 
lips in worldliness and social intrigue ; girls who calculated the cost 
of every entertainment, appraised its value, social and financial ; 
sneered if the floral decorations at a ball were sparely done ; sneered 
even more contemptuously when Transatlantic or newly-made wealth 
obtruded itself upon the eye in a too lavish magnificence ; girls who 
were gourmets upon leaving the nursery, and who passed at once 
from the schoolroom bread and butter to a nice discrimination iu 
quails, ortolans, and perigord pie ; girls who went gaily flirting and 
dancing through the flowery groves of a London June, all freshness 
and infantine candour imder the tempered incandescent lamps, yet 
havinff one eye always steadily directed to the main chance of an 
eligible husband and a handsome establishment. 

^Yhile he idly philosophised, gazing somewhat dreamily at the 
wall of faces, rising in a semicircle in front of him, till the topmost 
rank seemed to touch the roof of the hall, his eye suddenly fastened 
upon one face in the middle distance, a delicate and pensive face, 
far paler than the majority of those faces, though pallor is the pre- 
dominant note in the complexions of London work girls. That one 
face having once been perceived by him, shone out from the mass 
of faces, separate and distinct, and held his gaze. It was the face 
that had haunted his mind since that strange night in Justin Jermj-n's 
chambers, the face of the girl at the sewing-machine. Line for line 
it was the face he had seen in a vision, distinct in its identity as the 
living face he was looking at to-night. 

When the singing ceased he questioned Lady Jane, who sat nest 

him'. 

" There is a girl in the Chelsea choir, a very lovely girl, but witli 
a look of care in her face," he said. " Do you know who she is ? " 

" I tlnnk I know whom you mean. Can you point her out to 
me?" 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 2 5 

He counted the rows and the heads, and indicated the exact 
position of the girl whose face attracted him. 

" Do tell me what you know about her," he said earnestly. 

" Very httle. She is not in my parish or in my club. I beheve 
she is a good girl. She lives with her father " 

" Who was once a gentleman and a scholar, but who is now 
nothing but a drunkard," interrupted Gerard. 

" You know her, then ? " exclaimed Lady Jane. 

" Is that her history ? " 

" I fear it is. She came once to a social evening at our club, and 
I talked to her, but she was very reticent, and it is from other girls 
1 have heard the little I know of her story. The father was in the 
Church, but disgraced himself by intemperate habits. The girl who 
told me this heard it from him, not from his daughter. Hester is a 
brave, good girl, and bears the burden of her father's past foUies, 
and works very hard to maintain him in comfort. She is a very 
clever hand at braiding upon cloth. You may have noticed the 
braided gowns and jackets that have been worn of late years. 
Hester Dale does that kind of work for the fashionable tailors." 

" Is it hand work or done bv the sewinir-machine ? " 

" The greater part is machine work. Hester is very expert — a 
really exquisite worker by hand or machine — but it is a hard life at 
best. I wish we could do more to brighten it for her. We could 
give her many little treats, and pleasant excursions in the country, 
if she could only forget that she is a gentleman's daughter, and mix 
with omr gii-ls upon an equal footing. She would find a good deal 
of natural refinement among them, common as their surroundings 
are. But she does not care to join in anything but the singing 
classes. Music is her only pleasure." 

" Is not London a place of terrible temptations for so lovely a girl, 
under such adverse circumstances ? " asked Gerard, in the pause that 
followed the next part-song, by an East End choir. 

" Oh, Hester is not that kind of girl," answered Lady Jane, 
quickly ; " she is too pure-minded to be approached by any evil 
influences." 

Another choir burst into Mendelssohnic melody, " The Maybells 
and the Flowers," a choral song that sounded gay and fresh as May 
itself — and Gerard was again constrained to sUence, but he never 
took his eyes from the pure oval of that pale, pensive face, with its 
lovely violet eyes, full of a dreamy sweetness, gentle, trustful, inno- 
cent as the eyes of a child. Verily, this was a loveliness exempt 



126 Gerard; or, 

from the snares aud lures that lie in wait for vulgar beautj'. A girl 
with such a face as that would not be easily tempted. 

His mind went back to those two occasions upon which he had 
met Hester Davenport. He remembered that autumn afternoon at 
the Eectory, when he went into the drawing-room to bid Lihan good- 
bye, and found a strange young lady sitting with her — a young lady 
in a plain alpaca gown and a neat straw hat, and with the loveliest 
face he had seen for many a long day. He remembered the few 
words interchanged with the curate's daughter — the commonplace 
inquiries as to how she hked Hanover, and Hanover's waj-s and 
manners, and whether she had studied music or painting — and then 
a hm-ried adieu, as he ran ofif to the station. He remembered that 
other meeting by the sea, and a somewhat longer conversation — a 
little talk about her favourite walks, and her favourite books. He 
recalled the sweet face in its youthful fi-eshness — fair as the face of 
the holy bride in Raffaelle's " Spozalizio " — and then he thought of 
the girls he had known in the smart world, girls who had made 
magnificent marriages on the strength of a beauty less exquisite — 
who were now queens of society, treading lightly upon pathways 
strewn with the roses of hfe — worshipped, feted, royal in their 
supremacy. 

And it was just the starting point, the entourage that made all 
the diflference. This girl might sit at her sewing-machine till her 
loveHness faded to the pale shadow of the beauty that has been. 

He hardly heard the rest of the concert, though the voices were 
sufficiently loud. He was in a troubled dream of a life, which, after 
all, concerned him very httlc. What was Hecuba to liim, or he to 
Hecuba? Yet, in his eagerness to find out more about Hester 
Davenport he bade Lady Jane a hurried good night, and put his 
sister into her carriage to be driven home alone. 

" I am going for a stroll in the moonlight," he said. " Don't sit 
up for me. I may go to my club for half an hour afterwards." 

It was early yet, not quite ten o'clock, and the young May moon 
was shining over the chimneys of Soho, a tempting night for a walk, 
and Gerard was given to nocturnal perambulations, so Lilian hardly 
wondered at being sent home alone. 

He watched the brougham till it disappeared round a comer, and 
then watched the doors of the hall till the audience had all passed 
out, and had melted away into the infinite space of London ; and 
then he watched the girls who composed the different choirs as they 
departed, mostly in talkative clusters, full of gaiety after the even- 



The Woidd, the Flesh, and the Devil. 1 2 7 

ing's amusement. Among so manj' girls, all dressed in much the 
same fashion, it was not an easy task to single out one — but his eye 
was keen to distinguish that one girl for whom he waited, as she 
crossed the street, separating herself from the herd, and walking 
rapidly westward, he following. She walked with the resolute pace 
of a woman accustomed to thread her way through the streets of a 
great city, uncaring for the faces that passed her by, unconscious of 
observers, intent on her own business, self-contained and self-reUant. 
Gerard Hillersdon followed on the opposite side of the way, waiting 
for some quieter spot in which he might address her. They walked 
in this fashion as far as St. James's Park, and there, under the 
shelter of spring foliage, beneath Carlton Hoiise Terrace, he over- 
took and accosted her. 

" Good evening, Miss Davenport. I hope you have not forgotten 
me — Gerard Hillersdon, son of the Rector of Helmsleigh ? " 

He stood bareheaded in the faint evening light — half dusk, half 
moonhght — holding out his hand to her ; but she did not take the 
extended hand, and she was evidently anxious to pass on without 
any conversation with him. 

"No, I have not forgotten — but I am hurrying home to my father. 
Good night, Mr. Hillersdon." 

He would not let her go. 

" Spare me a few minutes — only a few minutes," he pleaded. 
" I won't delay your return. Let me walk by your side. My 
sister, your old friend Lihan, is living in London with me. She 
would like to call upon you if you will let her." 

" She was always kind — but it is impossible. My father and I 
have done with the world in which your sister lives. We are Kving 
verj' humbly, but not unhappily — at least, I have only one anxiety, 
and that would be worse if we were Hving in a palace." 

" Do you think my sister would value or love you less because 
you are working to mamtain your father? Oh, Miss Davenport, 
you cannot think so meanly of an old friend 1 " 

" No, no ; I am sure she would be as kind as ever — but I would 
rather not see her. It would recall past miseries. I have tried to 
blot out all memory of my past Jife — to exist only in the present, 
I get on very well " — with a sad little smile — " while I can do that. 
Please don't make it more difficult for me. Good night." 

She stopped, and this time it was she who held out her hand in 
fi-iendiy farewell. 

He took the poor little hand, so small, so delicately fashioned, in 



128 Gerard; or, 

its shabby cotton glove — a grey cotton glove that had been washed 
and neatly darned. Ho took her hand, and held it gently, but with 
no intention of accepting his dismissal. 

"Let me walk home with you," he said. "I have so much to 
say to you." 

" I would rather not. I am used to being alone." 

"A part of the way — at least, just a little way. I want to tell 
you of all the changes that have happened since you left 
Helmsleigh." 

" They cannot concern me. I tell you again I have done with 
all that life. I have no interest in it." 

" Not even in my sistei-'s fate ? She was your friend." 

" She was, and a very dear friend, but all that is past and gone. 
I want to know nothing about her, except that she is well and 
happy." 

" She is both — happier than when you knew her. She is in that 
exalted condition of happiness which seems common to girls who are 
engaged to be married — cm-ious when one considers their oppor- 
tunities of appraising the joys of domestic life in the persons of their 
fathers and mothers." 

" She is engaged? " mused Hester, forgetful at once of her resolve 
not to be interested, and all a woman in her quick sympathies. " Is 
her fiance any one I knew at Helmsleigh? " 

" No ; he did not come to Helmsleigh until after you left. Ho 
succeeded your father as curate ; but he is now in London. He is 
the Vicar of St. Lawrence's. You may have seen him at Lady 
Jane's club." 

" No ; I very seldom go to the club. I give most of my leisure 
to my father." 

" Mr. Davenport is pretty well, I hope ? " inquired Gerard, hardly 
knowing how to avoid giving her pain in any allusion to her father. 

" Yes, thank you. He has tolerable health ; only — there is no 
use in hiding it from you — there is always the old trouble to fear. 
It does not come often, but it is a constant fear." 

" He is not cured ? He still gives way to the old temptation ? " 

"Sometimes. He is very good. He struggles against that 
dreadful inclination ; but there are times when it is stronger than 
himself. He fought a hard battle with himself when we were in 
Australia — tried to gain his self-respect and the respect of his fellow- 
men, lie succeeded in getting profitable employment as a clerk. 
We were doing quite well ; but the evil hour came. He was 



The World, ike Flesh, and the Devil. 129 

tempted by foolish friendly people, who laughed at my anxieties 
about him — and — the end was madness. He was dismissed from 
the office where he was a gentleman and a person of importance, 
with a good salary, and he was glad to di'op into a lower form of 
emplojTuent ; and he sank and sank to almost the lowest in the 
city of Melbourne. His friends ceased to care for him. They 
called him irreti-ievable. So then I took the care of his life upon 
ray own shoulders. I was able to earn a httle money by giving 
lessons in a depot for sewing-machines, where I learnt a good many 
improvements in machine-work — improvements that are not yet 
common in England — and I saved just enough to pay our passage 
home — a steerage passage. I brought him home, a sad wreck, 
hopeless, broken in body and mind, and we found lodgings in 
Chelsea — very cheap and very humble, but clean and wholesome. 
A distant relation of my father's pays the rent. "We have lived 
there ever since. I thought at first that I should be able to find 
pupils for the pianoforte or singing, and that my German education 
would help me in that way ; but I found very soon how hopeless 
that is, especially when one is hving in a poor neighbourhood and 
wearing a threadbare gown. And then I was lucky enough to dis- 
cover a mantle-maker in Knightsbridge who wanted what is called 
a braiding hand, and as my knowledge of the latest sewing-machine 
enabled me to do this kmd of work better than most girls, I soon 
got regular employment, and I have been able to make my hving 
ever since." 

"A poor living and a hard life, I fear," said Gerard. 

" Oh, we have enough. We are just comfortable, father and I ; 
and he is so fond of me and so good to me that I ought to bo 
thankful and happy." 

" And have you no recreation, no variety in your existence ? Is 
it all hard work ? " 

" I have the choir practice. That makes a little change now and 
then, only I don't like to leave my father too often." 

"Does he do nothing? " 

" He reads the papers at the free library, and in fine weather he 
does a little gardenmg." 

" But he does nothing to help you — he earns nothing ? " 

" No, he is past all that. If he could earn money evil would 
come of it. As it is his pockets are always empty, poor dear, and 
he cannot pay for the dreadful stufi" that would madden his brain. 
Brandy and chloral cost money, luckily for him and for me." 

E 



130 Gej^ard ; or, 

" Will you let Lilian help you ? " asked Gerard. " "We are rich 
now, ridiculously rich. We hold our wealth in trust for all who 
need it. Let my sister do something to make your life lighter. 
She shall put a sum of money into the Knightsbridge Bank to your 
credit, open an account for you, and you can draw the money as 
you want it. She shall do that to-morrow. Consider the thing 
done." 

" Do not dream of it, Mr. Hillersdon," she answered indignantly. 
"I would never touch a sixpence of any such money. Do you 
suppose I would take alms from you or any one else while I am 
young and strong, and am able to get regular work ? I wonder you 
can think so poorly of me." 

" I wonder you can be so cruel as to refuse my friendship — for 
in refusing my help you deny me the privilege of a friend. It is 
mere stubbornness to reject a small share in Lilian's good fortune. 
I tell you again we are absurdly rich." 

" If you were twice as rich as the richest of the Rothschilds I 
would not sacrifice my independence. If I were penniless and my 
father ill the case might be different. I might ask your sister to 
help me." 

'• And must I do nothing to lighten your burden, to soften your 
hardUfe?" 

" It is not a hard life. It is the life of thousands of girls in this 
great city — girls who are contented with their lot, and are bright 
and happy. I am luckier than many of them, for my work is better 
paid." 

" But you were not bom to this lot! " 

" Perhaps not ; but I hardly think that makes it any worse to 
bear. I have hved the life long enough to be accustomed to it." 

They were in Eaton Square by this time, the long and rather 
dreary souare, with its tall, bam-hke church, which even Fashion 
cannot make beautiful. \Vhen they were about half-way between 
the church and the western end of the square Hester stopped 
abruptly. 

" I must beg you to come no further," she said, and there was 
a resolute look in the pale proud face under the hght of the street 
lamp that commanded obedience. 

" Good night, then," he said moodily. " You will at least tell 
me where you live ? " 

'• Xo, there would be nothing gained. My father and I wish to 
be forgotten." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 131 

She hurried away from him, and he stood there in moonlight 
and gaslight, in the diill level square, thinking how strange 
life is. 

Should he follow her and find out where she lived ? No ; that 
would be a base and vulgar act, and he might obtain her address 
without that sacrifice of self-respect and risk of her contempt. He 
could find out at the club, of whose choir she was a member. She 
fancied herself safely hidden under her assumed name, no doubt; 
but he had heard that alias from Lady Jane, and it would be easy 
enough to discover the dwelling-place of Hester Dale. 

He walked home melancholy, and yet elated. He was so glad 
to have found her. It seemed as if a new life were beginning for 
him that night. 

He did not go to any of the haimts which invite the footsteps of 
youth betwixt midnight and morning. Dancing tempted him not, 
neither music nor cards. He was out of tune with all such common 
amusements, and the commonplace emotions which they produce. 
He felt as Endymion felt after the mystery of the cavern ; felt as 
if in that walk in the dim evening shadows and in the bright moon- 
light he had been in another world, and now was back in the old 
world again, and foimd it passing dull. 

AU was silent in his house when he went in, but through an open 
window in the lofty hall a chilling wind crept in and stirred the 
palm leaves, and awakened weird harmonies in an ^olian harp 
that hung near the casement. His favourite reading-lamp was 
burning on the table in his study, that room which owed its existence 
to Justin Jermyn's taste rather than his own, and was yet in all 
things as his own taste would have chosen. 

The valet who was waiting up for him received his orders and 
retired, and as his footsteps slowly died away in the corridor, Gerard 
Hillersdon felt the oppression of an intolerable soKtude. 

There were letters on a side table. Of all the numerous deliveries 
in the district none ever failed to bring a heap of letters for the 
millionaire — invitations, letters of introduction, begging letters, 
circulars, prospectuses of every imaginable mode and manner of 
scheme engendered in the wild dreams of the speculator. He only 
glanced at these things, and then flung them into a basket which 
his secretary cleared every morning. His secretary replied to the 
invitations ; he had neatly engraved cards expressive of every phase 
of circumstances — the pleasure in accepting — the honour of dining 
— the regret in dechning — and all the rest. The chief thing which 



13- Gerard; or, 

money had done for Gerard Hillersdon was to lessen the labour of 
life — to shunt all his burdens upon other shoulders. 

This is -what wealth can do. If it cannot always buy happiness, 
it can generally buy ease. It seems a hard thing to the millionaire 
that he must endure his own gout, and that he cannot hire some 
one to get up early in the morning for him. 

Among all the letters which had accumulated since six o'clock, 
there was only one that interested him, a long letter from Edith 
Champion, who had the feminine passion for wi-iting lengthily to 
the man she loved, albeit of late he had rarely replied in any more 
impassioned form than a telegram. 

" It is so much nicer to talk," he told her when she reproached 
him, " and there is nothing to prevent our meeting." 

" But there is. There are whole days on which we don't meet — 
my Finchley daj's." 

" True. But then we are so fresh to each other the day after. 
Why discount our emotions by Amting about them ? I love to get 
your letters, all the same," he added kindly. " Your pen is so 
eloquent." 

" I can say more with my pen than I ever dare to say with my 
lips," she answered. 

Her letter to-night was gi-aver than usual. 

" I have been at Finchley all day — such a trying day. I think 
the end is coming — at least, the doctors have told me thej' do not 
give him much longer. I cannot say I fear he is dying, since you 
know that liis death will mean the beginning of a new existence for 
me, with all the hope and gladness of my girlhood ; and yet my 
mind is full of fear when I think of him and of you, and of what 
my life has been for the last three j^ears. I do not think I have 
failed in any duty to him. I know that I have never thwarted him, 
that I have studied his wishes in the arrangement of our lives, have 
never complained of the dull people he brought about me, or refused 
to send a card to any of his city friends. If he had objected to 
your visits I should have given up your acquaintance. I have never 
disobeyed him. But he liked to %ee you in his house ; he never 
felt the faintest pang of jealousy, though he must have known that 
you were more to me than any common friend. I have done my 
duty, Gerard ; and yet I feel myself disgraced somehow by those 
three years of my mamed life. I was sold like a slave in the 
market-place, and though such bargains are the fashion nowadays, 
and everyl)ody approves of the market and the barter, yet a woman 



Th& World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 133 

•u-ho has consented to be bought by the highest bidder cannot feel 
very proud of herself in after hfe. It is nearly over, Gerard, and 
by-and-by you must teach me to foi-get. You must give me back 
my girlhood. You can, and you only. There is no one else who 
can — no one — ^no one." 

He sat brooding, with that letter open before him. Yes, he was 
bound as fast as ever man was bound — bound by every obligation 
that could constrain an honest man. Conscience, feeling, honour 
alike constrained him. This was the woman to whom he gave his 
heart four years ago, in the fresh morning of a yoimg man's life — 
hi that one bright year of youth when all pleasures, hopes, and 
fancies are new and vivid, and when the feet that tread this work- 
aday earth move as lightly as if they wore Mercury's pinions. What 
a happy year it had been ! What a bright, laughing love ! Though 
he might look back now and sneer at his first love as commonplace 
and conventional, he could but remember how sunny the world had 
been, how Hght his heart, how keen his enjoyment of life in those 
thoughtless days — before he had learnt to think ! Yes ; that had 
been the charm of existence — he had lived in the present. He 
must try to hve in the present now — to look neither backward nor 
forward — to enjoy, as the butterflies enjoy — without memory, with- 
out forecast. 

He had not forgotten the opening chapter of the " Peau de 
Chagrin " — the dismal centenarian in the bric-a-brac shop, the man 
with a face hke a death's head, the dreary stoic who had existed for 
a hundred years, and yet had never lived. He had the novel on 
the table before him — an edition de luxe, richly illustrated, with 
duphcate engravings on India paper. The story had a curious 
fascination for him, and he coiild not rid himself of the idea that the 
consumptive Valentin was his own prototype. In a curious, fanci- 
ful indulgence of this grim notion, he had nailed a large sheet of 
drawing-paper on the paneUed wall that faced his writing-table. He 
had no enchanted skin to hang on the white paper, to indicate by 
its gradual contraction the wasting of his own life — the hurrying 
feet of Death ; but he had invented for himself a gauge of his 
strength and nervine vitality. Upon the elephantine sheet he 
had drawn with a bold and rapid pen the irregular outline of an 
imagmary chagrin skin, and from time to time he had drawn other 
hues within this outline, always following the original form. In 
the steadiness and force of the hue his pen made he saw an indica- 
tion of the steadiness of his nerves, the soundness of his physical 



134 Gerard; or, 

health. Of the five lines upon the ■u-hite paper the innermost 
showed weakest and most uncertain. There had been a gradual 
deterioration from the fu-st h'ne to the fifth. 

To-night, after a long interval of melancholy thought, he rose 
suddenly, dipped a broad-nibbed pen into a capacious ink-pot, and 
with slow, uncertain hand traced the sixth line — traced it with a 
hand so tremulous that this last line differed more markedly from 
the line immediately before it than that fifth line differed from the 
first bold outline. Yet between the first and the fifth lines there had 
been an interval of nearly six months, while between the fifth and 
the sixth the interval was but three days. 

The element of passion, with its fever of hope and expectancy, 
had newly entered into his life. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" OUT WENT in: heart's kew fire, ajsT> left it cold." 

Gekakd HiLLERSDoy and Mrs. Champion met but rarely during the 
month of May. Doomed men are apt to linger beyond the antici- 
pations of their medical attendants, and the famous physician from 
Cavendish Square continued his bi-weekly visits through all the 
bright long sunny days which society's calendar has devoted to 
the pursuit of pleasure — a chase from which Mrs. Champion's 
handsome face and form were missing. Other figures there were as 
perfect, other faces as famous for beauty ; and it was only once in a 
way that one of the butterflies noted the absence of that Queen 
butterfly ; it was only once in a way that friendship murmured -^nth 
a sigh, " Poor Mrs. Champion, mewed up with an invahd husband 
all through this lovely season ! " 

Edith Champion gave the fading life her uttermost devotion. 
She had a keen sense of honour, after all — this wife who had gone 
on loving her first lover all through her married life. She had a 
more sensitive conscience than her world would have readily believed. 
She wanted to do her duty to the dying husband, so that she might 
surrender herself heart and mind to a new life of gladness when he 
should be at peace, and yet feel no sting of remorse, and yet have 
no dark memory to fling its shadow across her sunlight. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 135 

With this laudable desire, she spent the gi-eater part of her life at 
Finchley, where she had taken a villa near the doctor's house, so as 
to be within call by day or night. She withdrew herself from aU 
friends and acquaintances except Gerard Hillersdon, and even him 
she saw only two or three times a week, driving into London and 
taking tea in the cool Hertford Street drawing-room, with her nerves 
always strained by the dread of some urgent telegram that should 
call her back to her duties. 

" The end may come at any moment," she said. " It would be 
dreadful if I were absent at the last." 

" Do you think it would really matter — to him? " asked Gerard. 

" I think it would. He rarely addresses me by name, but I think 
he always knows me. He will take things fi"om my hand — food or 
medicine — which he will not take from his nurses. They tell me he 
is much more restless when I am not there. I can do very little 
for him ; but if 1 can make him just a shade easier and calmer by 
Bitting at his bedside it is my duty to be there. I feel that it is 
wrong even to be away for a couple of hours this afternoon — but if 
I did not leave him and that dreary house once in a way 1 think my 
brain would go as his has gone." 

" Is the house so very dreadful ? " 

" Dreadful, no. It is a charming house, nicely furnished, the very 
pink of neatness, in the midst of a delightful old garden. It is what 
one knows about it — the troubled minds that have worn themselves 
out in those prim, orderly rooms, the sleepless eyes that have stared 
at those bright, pretty wall-papers, the wild delusions, the attempted 
suicides, the hngering deaths ! When I think of all those things, 
the silence of the house seems intolerable, the ticking of the clock a 
slow torture. But you will teach me to forget all this misery by-and- 
by, Gerard? You will teach me to forget, won't you ? " 

That was the only allusion she had ever made of late to the near 
future. It was forgetfulness she yearned for, as the chief boon the 
future could bestow. 

" You caimot think how long this summer has seemed to me," 
she said. " I hope I am not impatient, that I would not hasten the 
end by a single day — but the days and the hours are terribly long." 
An hour was the utmost respite that Mrs. Champion allowed 
herself in that cool perfumed room, tete-d-tete with her first lover, 
Burroimded with ail the old frivohties, the tea-table, set out with 
tiny foie-gras sandwiches, and hot-house fruit, the automatic 
Japanese fan, mounted on a bamboo stand, set in motion with the 



1^6 Gerard; or, 

lightest touch, the new books and magazuaes scattered about, to be 
carried off" in her victoria presently, for the solace of wakeful nights. 
Only an hour of converse with the man she loved, broken into very 
often by some officious caller, who saw her carriage at the door, and 
insisted upon being let in. 

It seemed to her now and then that Gerard was somewhat absent 
and restrained during these interviews, but she attributed his languid 
manner to the depressing nature of all she had to tell him. Her 
own low spirits communicated themselves to him. 

" We are so thoroughly in sympathy," she told herself. 

He left her one afternoon late in Jmie, and instead of going into 
the Park where the triple rank of carriages by the Achilles stafcie 
oHered to the admiring lounger a bouquet of high-bred beauty, set 
off by the latest triumphs of court dressmakers, he walked past the 
Alexandra Hotel and dropped into Sloane Street, and thence to 
Chelsea. His feet ha d taken him in that direction very often of late. 

He had found no difficulty in discovering Hester's dwelling-place, 
for on his way to the St. Cecilia Club he had stumbled against old 
Davenport, bottle-nosed, shabby, but wearing clean linen, carefully 
brushed clothes, and with a certain siu'vival of his old Oxford 
manner. 

Neither drunken habits nor dark vicissitudes had impaired the 
old man's memory. He recognised Hillersdon at a glance, and 
cordially returned his greeting. 

" Wonderful changes have come about since we saw each other 
in Devonshire, Mr. Hillersdon," he said. " I have gone very low 
down the ladder of Fortune, and you have gone very high up. I 
congratulate you upon your good luck — not undeserved, certainly 
not. You acted like a hero, my dear young friend, and such an 
act merited a handsome reward. I read the story in the news- 
papers." 

"A much exaggerated version of the truth, no doubt. I'll walk 
your way, if you please, Mr. Davenport. I should hke to know 
Iiow the world has used you." 

" No better than it uses a homeless mongrel, sir ; but perhaps n() 
worse than I deserved. You remember what Hamlet says : ' Use 
every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping ? ' I 
don't like to take you out of your way, Mr. Hillersdon." 

" My way is no way. 1 was only strolling — with no settled 
purpose." 

They were on the Chelsta embankment, where Lhc old houses of 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 137 

Cheyne Walk still recall the old-world restfulness of a day that is 
dead, while the Suspension Bridge and Battersea Park tell of an 
age that means change and progress. 
. " you like old Chelsea and its associations," said Davenport. 

"Very much. I remember the place when I was a boy, and I 
recognise improvement everj'where ; but I gi-ieve over the lost 
landmarks, Don Saltero, the old narrow Cheyne Walk, the sober 
shabbiness " 

" There are older things that I remember — in the days when my 
people lived in Lowndes Square, and I used to come fresh from 
Balliol to take my fill of pleasure in the London season. My father 
was a prosperous Q.C., a man employed in all the great cases where 
intellect and oratory were wanted. He was earning a fine income 
—though not half as much as your famous silk -gowns earn nowadays 
— and he spent as fast as he earned. He had a large family and 
was very liberal to his children — and when he died, in the prime of 
life, he left his widow and orphans the fag-end of a lease, a suite of 
Louis Quatorze furniture, already out of fashion, a choice collection 
of Wedgwood, and a few Prouts, Tophams, Hunts, and Duncans. 
He had put away nothing out of the big fees that had been pouring 
in for the last fifteen years of his life. He used to talk about 
beginning to save nest year, but that next year never came. The 
sale of the lease and furniture made a little fund for my mother and 
three unmarried daughters. For me and my brothers the world 
was our oyster — to be opened as best we might." 

" You had scholarship to help you." 

" Yes, Greek and Latm were my only stock in trade. A friend 
of my father's gave me a small living within a couple of years of 
my taking priest's orders, and on the strength of that I married, 
and took private pupils. I lost my wife when Hetty was only 
twelve years old, but things had begun to go wrong before then. 
My second living was in a low district, village and vicarage on clay 
soil, too many trees, and no drainage. The devil's tooth of neuralgia 
fastened itself upon me, body and bones, and my life for somo 
years was a perpetual fight with pain. Like Paul I fought with 
beasts — invisible beasts — that gnawed into my soul. Here is my 
poor httle domicile. I hardly knew we had walked so far.'' 

He had taken his homeward way automatically, while Gerard 
walked beside him, through shabby streets of those small serai- 
detached houses which the builder has devised for needy gentility 
and prosperous labour— here the healthy mechanic with five and 



138 Gerard ; or, 

thirty shillings a week, corduroy trousers and shirt sleeves, there 
the sickly clerk, with a weekly guinea and a threadbare alpaca coat. 
Here shining windows and gaily filled flower-boxes, there dirt and 
Blatternliness, broken bottles and weeds in the tiny forecourt, 
misery and squalor in its most hideous aspect. Gerard had marked 
the shabbiness of the neighbourhood, and he felt that somewhere 
in the midst of this sordid labyrinth he should find his Ariadne, 
though her hand would never have furnished him with the clue. 

The house before which Mr. Davenport stopped was no better 
than the other houses which they had passed, but the best had 
been made of its shabbiness, the forecourt was full of stocks and 
carnations, and a row of Mary lilies marked the boimdary rail which 
divided this tiny enclosure from the adjacent patch. The window- 
panes shone bright and clear, and the vrindow-box was a hanging 
garden of ivy-leafed geranium, yeUow marguerites, and mignonette. 

" What a pretty httle garden ! " exclaimed Gerard. 

" Yes, there are a good many flowers for such a scrap of ground. 
Hettie and I are very fond of our garden — we've a goodish bit of 
ground at the back. It's about the only thing we can take any 
pride in ■nnth such surroundings as ours." 

And then, lingering at the gate, as Gerard lingered, the old man 
asked — 

" Will you come in and rest after your walk ? I can give you a 
lemon squash." 

" That's a tempting offer upon one of the hottest afternoons we 
have had this year. Yes, I shall be pleased to sit down for half an 
hour, if you are sure I shan't be in your way." 

" I shall be very glad of your company. I get plenty of solitude 
when Hettie is out on her long tramps to Knightsbridge. She 
often passes the house in which her grandfather used to entertain 
Bome of the best people in London — a work-girl, with a bimdle 
under her arm. Hard lines, ain't it ? " 

He opened the door and admitted his visitor into a passage four- 
teen feet by two feet sis, out of which opened the front parlour and 
general living room, a small room, with a little stunted cupboard on 
each side of the fireplace. Gerard looked about him with greedy 
eyes, noting every detail. 

The furniture was of the commonest, a pembroke table, half a 
dozen cane-seated chairs, a sofa such as can only be found in 
lodging-house parlours ; but there were a few things which gave 
individuality to the room, and in somewise redeemed its shabbiness. 



l^he World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 139 

Fronting the window stood a capacious arm-chair, covered with 
apple-blossom chintz ; the ugly sofa was draped with soft Japanese 
muslin; a cheap paper screen of cool colouring broke the ugly 
outline of the folding doors, and a few little bits of old china and a 
row of books gave meaning to the wooden slabs at the top of the 
dwarf cupboards. 

There was a bowl of flowers on the table, vivid yellow corn- 
cockles, which brightened the room like a patch of sunhght. 

" Try that easy chair," said Davenport, " it's uncommonly com- 
fortable." 

" Thanks, no," seating himself near the window, " this will do 
very nicely. That's your own particular chair, I know." 

" You are right," sighed the old man, sinking into its cushioned 
depths. " This chair was Hettie's present on my last Wrthday. It 
was a shabby old chair when I first saw it at a broker's in the 
King's Road — but I was caught by the comfortable shape — and I 
told my poor girl I'd seen a second-hand chair that looked the 
picture of comfort. She didn't seem to take much notice of what 
I said, and the nest time I passed the dealer's yard — where the 
chair used to stand in the open air amongst a lot of other things — it 
was gone. I told Hettie it had disappeared. ' Sold, I suppose,' 
said she, ' what a pity ! ' And nearly a year afterwards, on my 
birthdaj', the chair was brought in, freshly covered, as you see it. 
My poor girl had been paying for it by instalments, a shilling or 
two at a time, ever since I mentioned it to her. How proud and 
happy we both were that day, in spite of our poverty ! I remember 
when I was at the University my brothers and sisters and 1 clubbed 
together to buy a silver tea-kettle for my mother on her silver- 
wedding day — and it only resulted in general mortification. She 
was sorry we had spent our money — and she didn't like the shape 
of the kettle. It was half covered with a long inscription, so we 
couldn't change it, and I know two of my sisters were in tears 
about it before the day was over. But I must make you that lemon 
squash, l^unc est bibendum ! Perhaps though, you'd prefer a 
John Collins? " — with a curiously interrogative look. " There isn't 
any gin in the house, but I could send for a bottle." 

"I much prefer the unsophisticated lemon; though I enxy a 
city waiter the facility with which he made his name a part of 
the convivial vocabulary. Falstaff could not have done more." 

Mr. Davenport opened one of the dwarf cupboards, and produced 
tumblers, lemons, and pounded sugar. Then he went out of the 



140 Gerard ; or, 

room, and reappeared in a few minutes with a jug of frcsli water. 
His narrow means did not permit the luxury of a s^-phon. He 
concocted the two glasses of lemonade carefully and deliberately, 
Gerard Hillersdon watching him all the time in a melancholy 
reverie ; but the image that filled his mind was that of the absent 
daughter, not the form of the father bodily present to his ej'e. 

He was thinking of yonder easy-chair, paid for in sohtary shillings, 
the narrow surplus left from the necessities of daily Hfe. He 
thought of that refined and dehcate face, that fragile form, far too 
finely made for life's common uses — thought of her daily deprivations, 
her toilsome walks, her weary monotony of task -work. 

Yes, there was the modern W'heel upon which feminine poverty 
is racked — the sewing-machine. It stood in front of the window 
by which he was sitting. She had covered it with a piece of art 
muslin, giving an air of prettiness even to the instrument of her 
toil. A pair of delf candlesticks stood on a little table near the 
machine, with the candles burnt low in the sockets. She had been 
working late last night, perhaps. It maddened him to think that 
out of all his wealth he could do nothing to help her — she would 
take nothing out of his superabundance. If he were to heed the 
appeals of all the strangers who wrote to him — pouring out their 
domestic secrets, their needs and troubles, in eight-page letters, he 
might give away every penny of his income — but this one woman, 
whom he yearned to help, would take nothing. This was Fate's 
sharpest irony. Fidl of these thoughts, he sipped his lemonade 
and discussed the poHtical situation with Mr. Davenport, whose 
chief occupation was to read the papers at the Free Library, and 
who was an ardent politician. Ho hngered in the hope of seeing 
Hester before he left. 

It was nearly four o'clock, and the June afternoon had a drowsy 
warmth which was fast beguiling old Nicholas Davenport into 
slumber. His words were coming very slowh^, and he gradually 
sank^into a blissful silence, and was off upon that rapid dream- 
journey which takes the sleeper into a new world in an instant- 
plunges him into the midst of a draviatis personce that moment 
invented whom he seems to have known all his life. 

A bee was humming amongst the sweet-scented stocks, and a 
town butterfly was fluttering about the mignonette. A hawker's 
cry in the next street came with a musical sound, as if the hawker 
had been some monotonous bird with a song of only three notes. 
Still Gerard lingered, hoping that the old man would wake presently 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 141 

and resume the conversation. He was in despair at the idea of 
leaving without seeing Hester. 

He wanted to see that delicately-modelled face — the face in the 
Sposalizio — in the daylight. He wanted to be her friend, if she 
would let him. T\Tiat harm could there be in such a friendship? 
They were too completely severed by the iron wall of circumstances 
ever to become lovers. But friends they might be — friends for 
mutual help and comfort. He could share with her the good things 
of this life. She could spiritualise his lower nature by the intiuence 
of that child-hke purity which set her apart from the common world. 

He heard a Hght footstep, and then the click of a latch. She was 
at the gate, she was coming in, a slim and graceful figure in a light 
cambric gown and a saUor hat, such a neat little white straw hat, 
which cast pearly shadows on the exquisite cheek and chin, and 
darkened the violet eyes. 

She started and blushed crimson on seeing him, and darted a 
despairingly reproachful look at her father, who had risen confusedlv 
in the midst of a dream. Gerard, too, had risen as she entered, and 
stood facing her. 

" Don't be angry with your father or with me. Miss Davenport. 
We happened to meet each other an hour ago on the Embankment, 
and I walked home with him. And now that I am admitted to 
your home you will let me bring my sister, I hope. She wUl be 
glad to renew her old friendship with you. Do not hold her at 
arm's length, even if you shut your door against me. You know 
how sympathetic she is." 

Hester did not answer him for a minute or so. She sank into a 
chair, and took off the neat little hat, and passed her hand across 
her brow, smoothing the soft pale brown hair which shadowed lier 
forehead. She looked tired and harassed, almost too weary for 
speech, and at last, when speech came, there was a languor in her 
tone, an accent as of one who submits to fate. 

•• Yes, I remember," she said, " your sister was always good and 
sweet. She was very kind to me ; some of piy happiest hours were 
spent with her. But that is all past and done with. It is hardly 
kind of you to ask me to remember " 

'•I don't want you to remember the old life. I only want yon to 
open your heart to an old friend, who will help to make your present 
life happier. Lilian may come, may she not ? I can see you 
mean yes." 

'• How can I say no, when you are so eager to do me a kind- 



142 Gera7'd ; or, 

ness? " and then she glanced at the old man piteously. "If father 
does not mind a face that wiU recall his residence at Helmsleigh, 
and all he suSered there." 

" No, no, Hettie, I don't mind. I have suffered too much, and in 
too many places, since the Pain-devil stuck his claws into me. If 
the people who blame me — who talk of me as a drunken old dotard 
— could sufler an hour of the agony I have suffered off and on for 
months at a stretch, they would be a little more charitable in their 
judgments. I am not blaming your father, Mr. Hillersdon ; he was 
very good to me. He bore with me as long as he could, till at last 
I disgraced myself. It was a terrible scandal ; no man could bear 
up against it. I felt after that night all was over." 

" Don't, father, don't speak of it." 

" I must, Hettie. I want to tell Mr. Hillersdon all that you have 
been to me — what a heroine, what a martyr ! " 

" Nonsense, father ! I have only done what other daughters are 
doing all the world over. And, thank God, you are better now! 
You have had very little of the old pain for the last two years. 
You are sti'onger and better, living as you do now, than when — ■ 
when you were less careful. Your neuralgia will never come back, 
I hope." 

" If Miss Hillersdon doesn't mind visiting us in this shabby 
lodging, we shall be very pleased to see her," said Davenport, 
brushing away a remorseful tear. " It cuts me to the heart that my 
poor girl has not a friend in the world except that best of women, 
Lady Jane Blenheim." 

His request being granted, Gerard had no excuse for delajnng his 
departure. He offered his hand to Hester as he said good-bye, and 
when her slender fingers touched his own, his cheek and brow 
flushed as if a wave of fire had passed over his face, and his eyes 
grew dim ; only for a moment, but that fiery wave had never 
clouded his vision at the touch of any other woman — not even Edith 
Champion, to whom he had given the devotion of years. His heart 
was beating violently as he walked along the shabby street, past 
gardens that were full of summer flowers, and forecourts that were 
no better than rubbish heaps, past squalid indigence and industrious 
poverty. It was not till he pulled up under the shadow of the trees 
in Cheyne Walk that the sense of a great joy or a great trouble 
began to abate, and he was able to think calmly. 

He seated himself on a bench near the river, and waited till his 
pulses beat a more tranquil measure. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 143 

"I am a fool," hie muttered. "Why should her beauty agitate 
me like this ? I have seen beautiful women before to-day — women 
in the zenith of their charms, not pallid and worn hke this heroic 
girl. The woman who is to be my wife is handsomer, and in a 
grander style of beauty. And yet, because I must not care for this 
one, every nerve is strained, every pulse is racing. I am a fool, and 
the worst of fools, remembering what old Dr. South told me. Is 
this sparing myself? is this husbanding my resources? To be so 
moved by such a trivial cause — not to be able to admire a beautiful 
face without being shaken as if by an earthquake." 

He remembered the book upon his wTiting-table, the " Peau de 
Chagrin," that story which had an irresistible fascination for him, 
every page of which he had hung over many a night in his hours of 
lonely thought. How vain had been Valentin's endeavour to lead 
that passionless Hfe in which the oil in the lamp burns slowly ! But 
he hoped to prove himself wiser than Balzac's ill-fated hero. He, 
too, had planned an existence free from all strong emotions. In 
his life of millionaire and man of fashion there were to be no 
agitations. He looked forward to a future union with Edith as a 
haven of rest. Married to a woman whom he had loved long 
enough to take love for granted, a woman whose fideHty had been 
tested by time, whose constancy he need never doubt, for him the 
years would ghde onward with easy pace to sober middle life, and 
even to the grey dignity of honoured age. But he, like Valentin, had 
been warned against the drama and passion of life. He was to be, 
not to act or to suffer. 

And for a mere transient fancy, the charm of a pensive coun- 
tenance, the romance of patient poverty, he had let his veins run 
liquid fire, his heart beat furiously. He was ashamed of his own 
inconsistency ; and presently, seeing a hansom sauntering along 
Tiuder the trees with a horse that looked a good mover, he hailed 
the man, and asked if his horse were fresh enough to drive as far 
as Finchley. Naturally the reply was yes, and in the next minute 
he was being can'ied swiftly through the summer dust with his face 
to the north. 

He had often meditated this drive to the northern suburb with 
his own horses, and then it had seemed to him that to approach 
the house in wliich Mr. Champion was lengthening out the lees of 
life would be an error in taste, although he and the dying man had 
been upon the friendliest terms ever since Edith's marriage. This 
afternoon he felt a curious eagerness to be wth the woman to 



144 Gej'ard ; or, 

wliom he had bound himself, a feverish anxiety which subjugated 
all scruples. 

He drove to the house Mrs. Champion had hired for herself — a 
small villa, in a -well-kept garden. It was past eight when he rang 
the bell, and the lawn and flower-beds were golden in the sunset. 
He expected to find Edith Champion at dinner, and had made up 
his mind to dine with her, tete-oAete perhaps, for the first time in 
their Uves. 

Dinner was out of the question, for the present, at any rate. One 
of the match footmen, whose faces he knew in Hertford Street, 
came strolling in a leisurely way across the lawn, pipe in mouth, to 
answer the bell, suddenly pocketed his pipe and changed his 
bearing'on recognising ]\Ir. Hillersdon, and informed him that Mrs. 
Champion was at Kendal House, and that Mr. Champion was 
very bad. 

"Worse than usual, do you suppose? " asked Gerard. 

"I'm afraid so, sir. Mrs. Champion came home at half-past 
seven, but a messenger came for her while she was dressing for 
dinner, and she just put on her cloak, and ran across the road without 
even a hat. I'm afraid it's the bend." 

" Which is Kendal House ? " 

" I'll show you, sir." 

The footman stalked out mto the road with that slow and solemn 
stalk which is taught to footmen, and which is perhaps an element 
in the trade-unionism of domestic service — a studied slowness of 
movement in all things, lest perchance one footman should at any 
time do the work of two. Mrs. Champion's footman was a person 
of highest quality, and was even now oppressed with a sense of 
resentment at having to perform his duties single-handed at Finchley, 
while his comrade was leading a life of luxurious idleness in Hertford 
Street. 

He pointed out a carriage entrance in a wall a httle further up 
the road, and on tJie opposite side of the way, and to this gate 
Gerard hurried, and entered a highly respectable enclosure, a 
circular lawn girt with gravel drive, shrubberies hiding the walls 
and in front of hira a stately square stone house with classic portico, 
and two wings, suggesting drawing-room and billiard-room. 

The first glance at those numerous windows gave him a shock. 
All the blinds were down. It was over, he thought. Edith 
Champion was a widow. 

Yes, it was over. The sober, elderly manservant who opened the 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 145 

door informed him that Mr. Champion had breathed his last at five 
minutes to eight. Mrs. Champion was just in time to be present at 
his last moments. The end had been peaceful and painless. 

Edith Champion came downstairs, accompanied by the doctor, 
while the servant was talking, her eyes streaming. She saw Gerard, 
and went across the hall to him. 

" It is aU over," she said agitatedly. •' He knew me at the last 
— knew me and spoke my name, just as I thought he would. 
Thank God, I was there ; I was not too late for that last word. I 
did not think I could feel it so much, after those long days and 
weeks of anticipation." 

*' Let me take you to your own house," Gerard said gently. 
She was in a black lace dinner-dress, with a light summer cloak 
flung loosely about her, her white throat rising out of the gauzy 
blackness like a Parian pillar, her dark eyes drowned in tears, and 
tears still wet on her pale cheeks. All that was tender and womanly 
in her nature had been shaken by that final parting. If she had 
sold herself to the rich man as slaves are sold in an Eastern market 
he had been a most indulgent master, and her slaveiy had been of 
the lightest. 

The doctor attended her to the threshold, and she went out 
leaning on Gerard's arm. Even in the midst of her natural resret 
there was sweetness in the thought that henceforth she belonged 
to him. It was his privilege and his duty to protect her, to think 
for her in all things. 

" You wll telegraph to my husband's solicitor," she said to the 
doctor falteringly, as she dried her tears. " He wUl be the proper 
person to arrange everything with you, I suppose. I shall not leave 

the Laurels till after " 

" I understand," interrupted the doctor, sa\-ing her the pain of 
that final word. "AU shall be arranged without troubling you 
more than is absolutely necessary." 

" Good night," she said, ofiering her hand. " I shall not forget 
how kind and thoughtful you always were. He could not have 
been better cared for." 

Gerard led her out of the formal enclosure where the conifers and 
evergreens were darkening under the shadows of night. The gata 
was open at the Laurels, and the stately footman was on the watch 
for his mistress's return, his powdered head bared to the evening 
breeze. Within there were lights and the brightness of flowers, 
dinner ready to be served. 

It 



146 Gerard; or, 

" You will take something, I hope ? " said Gerard, when the 
butler announced dinner. 

They had gone into the drawing-room, and she was sitting with 
her face hidden in her hands. 

" No, no, I could not eat anything," and then to the butler, " Mr. 
Hillersdon will dine. You can serve dinner for him, and tell George 
to bring me some tea here." 

" Then let me have a cup of tea with you," said Gerard. " I am 
no more in the mood for dining than you are." 

This gratified her, even in the midst of her sorrows. Women 
have an exaggerated idea of the value which men set upon dinner, 
and no sacrifice propitiates them more surely than the surrender of 
that meal. 

Edith Champion did not argue the point. She only gave a little 
sigh, and dried her tears, and became more composed. 

" I think I did my duty to him," she said presently. 

" Most thoroughly. You made him happy, which is more than 
many a wife can say about a husband she has adored," answered 
Gerard. 

The footman brought in the tea-table, and lighted the candles on 
the mantelpiece and piano, and drew the curtains, with an air of 
wishing to dispel any funereal gloom which the shadow of that dark 
event at Kendal House had spread over the room. He and the 
other servants had been talking about the funeral and their mourn- 
ing already, speculating as to whether IMr. Champion had left 
legacies to such of his servants as had been with him " say a year," 
concluded George, footman, who had been in the service fourteen 
months. 

Mrs. Champion made a httle motion of her hand towards the tea- 
pot, and George poured out the tea. She felt that the etiquette of 
grief would not allow her to perform that accustomed oflice. She 
sat still, and allowed herself to be waited upon, and sipped and 
sighed, while Gerard also sipped in pensive silence. 

He was thinking that this was the second time within a very few 
hours that he was taking tea with Edith Champion, and yet what 
a gap those few hours had cloven across his life. The woman he 
had loved so long, and to whom he had irrevocably pledged himself, 
was free from her bondage. There could be no longer doubt or 
hesitancy in their relations. A certain interval must be conceded 
to the prejudices of society; and then, at the end of that conven- 
tional widowhood this woman, whom he had loved so long, would 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 147 

lay aside her weeds, and put on her weddkig-go-wn, ready to stand 
beside him at the altar. For months he had known that Mr. 
Champion's end was imminent ; and yet to-night it seemed to him 
as if he had never expected the man to die. 

The silence was growing oppressive before either the lady or her 
guest found speech. The footman had retired, leaving the tea-table 
in front of his mistress, and they were alone again. 

" You will not remain in this house after the funeral, of course," 
said Gerard, having cast about for something to say. 

" No, I shall leave England immediately. I have been thinking 
of my plans while you and I have been sitting here. I hate myself 
for my egotism ; but I could not go on thinking of — him. It would 
do no good. I shall not easily forget him, poor fellow. His face 
and his voice will be in my thoughts for a long time to come — but 
I could not help thinking of myself too. It seems so strange to be 
free — to be able to go just where I like — not to be obliged to follow 
a routine. I shall go to Switzerland as soon as I can get ready. I 
shall take Eosa Gresham with me. She is always enchanted to 
tiurn her back upon that adorable parish of hers." 

" But why should you go away ? " 

" It will be best. If I were to stay in England you and I would 
be meeting, and now — now that he is gone people would rake up 
the past, and say ill-natured things about us. It will be far better 
that we should see very Httle of each other till the year of my 
widowhood is over. A long time, Gerard ; almost long enough for 
you to forget me." 

Her tone implied that such forgetfulness must needs be im- 
possible. 

" "What if I refuse to submit to such a separation, even to pro- 
pitiate Mrs. Grundy ? We have treated that worthy personage in 
a very off-hand manner hitherto. Why should we begin to care 
about her ? " 

"Because everything is different now he is gone. While my 
husband approved of my life nobody could presume to take objection 
to anything I might do ; but I stand alone now and must take care 
of my good name — your future wife's good name, Gerard ! " 

" How sweetly you put the question ! But, my dear Edith, must 
we really be parted so long ? Ooiild people talk about us if you 
and I were living in the same town, seeing each other every day ? " 

" You don't know how ill-natured people can be. Indeed, 
Gerard, it will be better for both our sakes." 



I4S Gerard; or^ 

" Not for my sake," he said earnestly. 

He had gone to Finchley that evening upon a sudden impulse, ad 
if he had been flying from an unimagiued peril. He had felt, 
vaguely, as if his first love were slipping away from him, as if 
an effort were needed to strengthen the old bonds; and now the 
woman who should have helped him to be true was about to for- 
sake him — to sacrifice inclination and happiness to the babbling 
crowd. 

" What can it matter bow people talk of us ? " he cried im- 
petuously. " We have to think of ourselves and our own happiness. 
Eemeraber how short life is, and what need we have to husband 
our brief span of years. Why waste a year, or half a year, upon 
conventionalities ? Let me go with you wherever you go. Let ua 
be married next week." 

" No, no, no, Gerard. God knows, I love you, only too dearly ; 
but I will not be guilty of deliberate disrespect to him who has gone. 
He was always good to me — kind and indulgent to a fault. I 
should have been a better wife, perhaps, if he had been a tyrant. 
I will not insult him in his grave. A year hence ; a year from this 
day I shall belong to you ! " 

" And Mrs. Grundy will have no fault to find with you. ' Content 
to dwell in decencies for ever,' " quoted Gerard, with a touch of 
scorn. " Well, you must have your own way. I have pleaded, 
and you have answered. Good night. I suppose I shall be allowed 
to bid you good-bye at the railway station before you leave 
England." 

" Of course. Eosa shall write to j'ou about our plans directly 
thev arc settled. You will be at the funeral, Gerard, will you 
notV' 

" Naturally. Once more good night." 

They clasped hands, she tearful still, ready to break down again 
at any moment ; and so he left her. 

The hansom had waited for him, the horse's head in a nosebag, 
the driver asleep on his perch. 

" Only a year, and you are mine as I am yours," mused Gerard, 
as lie was driven westward. " But a year sometimes makes a wide 
gap in a life. V/hat Mail it do in mine ? " 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 149 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" FOK SOME MUST STAisD, AND SOME MUST FAT J, OK FLEE." 

Mr. Champion had been laid at rest ia a brand new vault at 
Kensal Green for nearly a month, and his widow was at Interlacheu, 
•with her cousin, maid, and courier, excursioning mildly among the 
snow-peaks and glaciers, listening idly to Mrs. Gresham's interpre- 
tation of Mendelssohn, Chopin, and all the new Sclavonic composers, 
reading Shelley, Keats, and Swinburne, and abandoning herself to 
a vague melancholy, which found reHef in the solitude of everlasting 
hills, and the seclusion of private sitting-rooms at the hotel. From 
Interlachen Gerard Hillersdon received his sweetheart's lengthy 
and frequent letters, written in a fine, firm hand, on the smoothest 
paper, with a delicate perfume of wood violets — letters descriptive 
of every drive and every ramble among the hills, letters meditative 
upon the poetry she had been reading, or the last German novel, with 
its diffuse sentimentality and its domestic virtues — letters which 
generally enclosed a little white woolly flower, plucked amidst per- 
petual snows ; letters which did all that letters can do to bridge the 
distance between lovers. Gerard repHed less lengthily, but with 
unfailing tenderness, to all those letters of June and July. He 
wrote from his heart, or he told himself that he was so writing. 
He wrote with a large panel portrait of his sweetheart upon hia 
desk, in front of him, a portrait which met his eyes whenever he 
lifted them from his paper, a lifelike likeness of the beautiful face 
and figure, gorgeous in Court gown and mantle, a tiara on the 
imperial head, a riviere of diamonds upon the perfect neck ; a 
costume whose splendour would have been enough for a princess of 
the blood royal, yet which seemed only in harmony with Editli 
Champion's beauty. 

Sometimes between that face, with its grand lines, and classic 
regularity, there would come the vision of another face, altogether 
different, yet no less beautiful— the ethereal loveliness of the Ratfaelle 
Madonna, the elongated oval cheek and chin and straight sharply- 
chiselled nose, the exquisite refinement of the pensive lips and 
delicate arch of the eyebrows over violet eyes, the pearly tints of a 
complexion in which there was no brilliancy of colour, no peach 
bloom, only a transparent fairness beneath which the veins about 



150 Gerar^d ; or, 

the temples and around the eyes showed faintly azure — an oval 
face framed in shadowy brown hair. With what a fatal persistence 
this image haunted him ; and yet he had seen Hester Davenport 
only once since that afternoon at Chelsea, when the old man 
admitted him to the humble lodging-house parlour. Once only had 
he returned there, and that was to escort his sister, who was delighted 
to renew her acquaintance with the curate's beautiful daughter. 
That had happened three weeks ago, and Lilian and Hester had 
met several times since then — meetings of which Gerard had heard 
every detail. 

And now the London season was drawing to its close and Lilian 
had to leave her brother's house in order to do her duty, as an only 
daughter, and accompany her father and mother to Eoyat, where 
the Rector was to take a course of waters, which was to secure him 
an immunity from gout for the best part of a year, until the " cm"e " 
season came round again and the London physicians had decided 
where he was to go. It would be Lilian's last journey as a spinster 
with her father and mother. She was to be married early in the 
coming year, and to take upon herself husband and parish — that 
parish of St. Lawrence the Martyr to which she had already attached 
herself, and whose schools, almshouses, dispensary, night-refuge, 
oi-phanage, and reading-room were as familiar to her as the morning- 
room at Helmsleigh Rectory. 

It was her last morning at Ilillersdon House, and she was 
breakfasting tete-a-tete with her brother, a rare pleasure, as Gerard 
had been very erratic of late, rarely returning home till the middle 
of the night, and not often leaving his own rooms till the middle of 
the day. He had been drinking deep of the cup of pleasure, as it is 
offered to youth and wealth in the height of the London season ; but 
pleasure in his case had not meant debauchery, and the only 
vice to which late hours tempted him was an occasional hour's 
worship of the mystic number nine, or a quiet evening at piquet 
or poker. And in this drinking of the pleasure-chalice, he told 
himself that he was in no wise unduly consuming the candle of 
life, inasmuch as there was no pleasure which London could offer 
him that could stir his pulses or kindle the flame of passion. His 
heart beat no quicker when he held the bank at baccarat than 
when he sat over a book alone in his den. Time had been when 
an hour's play fired his blood, and set his temples throbbing; but 
to the millionaire loss or gain mattered little. There was only the 
pleasant exultation of success for its own sake, success which wag 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 151 

no more delightful' than if he had made a good shot at bowls on. 
a summer lawn. He argued, therefore, that he was living soberly 
within himself, even when his nights were spent among the wildest 
young men in London, the frequenters of the after-midnight clubs 
and the late restaurants. 

" How nice it is to have a quiet half-hour with you, Gerard ! " 
Baid Lilian, as they began breakfast, he trifling with a devilled 
sardine, she attacking bread and butter and strawberries, while 
the chefs choicest breakfast dishes remained untouched under their 
silver covers. 

" Yes, dear, and how soon such quiet hours vdll be impossible. 
I shall miss you dreadfully." 

*' And yet, although we have lived under the same roof we have 
Been very little of each other." 

" True, but it has been so sweet to know you were here, that I 
had always a sympathetic listener at hand." 

Lilian answered with a sigh. 

" You have given me no confidences, Gerard." 

"Have I not? BeUeve me it has been from no lack of faith 
in your honour and discretion. Perhaps it was because I liad 
nothing to tell ! " 

"Ah, Gerard, I know better than that. You have a secret — 
a secret which concerns Mrs. Champion. I know she is something 
more to you than a commonplace friend." 

Gerard laughed to himself ever so softly at his sister's naivete. 
" What, has your penetration made that discovery, my gentle 
Lilian ? " he said. " Yes, Edith Champion and I are more than 
common friends. We were plighted lovers once, dans le temps, 
when we were both hopeful and penniless. Wisdom and experience 
intervened. The young lady was induced to marry an elderly 
money-bag, who treated her generously, and to whom her behaviour 
was perfect. I changed from lover to friend, and that friendship 
was never mterrupted, nor did it ever occasion the sHghtest 
uneasiness to Mr. Champion." 

"And now that Mrs. Champion is a widow, free to marry for 
love " questioned Lihan, timidly. 

" In all probability she will become my wife — when her mourning 
is over. Shall you like her as a sister-in-law, LiUan ? " 

" How can I do otherwise ? She has always been so kind to me." 

" Ah, I remember. She took you to her dressmaker. I believe 
that is the highest effort of a woman's friendship." 



152 Gerard ; or, 

"How lightly y&u speak of her, Gerard, and how coldly — and yet 
I am sure you care for her more than for any one else in the world." 

" Naturally, and she deserves my affection, after having remained 
constant to me through the interregnum of a loveless marriage." 

" She is just the kind of woman you ought to marry. With her 
beauty and good style she will help you to maintain your position, 
and she will get rid of the friends whose influence I fear." 

" Which of my friends, Lilian ? " 

" All those who come to this house, except Jack. Perhaps you 
will say Jack is no friend of yours, that you are not in touch with 
him, as you call it." 

" He is my friend all the same. Granted that we differ in ethics 
and creed. I like him because he is sti-aight, and strong, and 
true, and outspoken, and hearty — a man to whom I would turn 
in doubt and difficulty, in sickness or despair — a good, brave, 
honest man, Lihan, a man to whom I gladly give almost the 
dearest thing I have on earth, my only sister." 

Tears sprang to Lilian's eyes at this praise of her lover. She 
could not answer in words for a few moments, but she stretched 
out her hand to her brother, and they sat hand clasped in hand. 

"How happy I am," she faltered at last, "to have won him, 
and to have your love as weU." 

" And now tell me why you dislike my fi-iends ? " 

" Because they seem to me all false and hollow — full of flowery 
words and shallow wit — arrogant, superficial, making light of all 
good men's creeds, dismissing noble lives and noble thoughts 
with a jest. Some of them are pleasant enough — Mr. Lurose, 
for instance, with his elegant languor, and his rhapsodies about 
art and architecture — Mr. Gambier, with his schemes for new 
novels, which he has the impertinence to tell me will be unfit for 
me to read." 

" Poor Gambier ! that is his harmless vanity. His most ardent 
detire is to be ranked with Zola and rejected by Mudie." 

"There is one of your friends whose presence fills me with 
horror, and yet he has more winning manners than any of them.'' 

" Indeed 1 " 

" The man who laughs at everything. Mr. Jerrajm." 

" Jermyn the Fate-reader." 

" He has never read my fate." 

" No, he refused to make an attempt. ' There is a light iu your 
sister's countenance that bafllos auguiy,' he told me. ' If I were 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, i 



oo 



to say anything about her it would be that she was created to 
be happy — but in a nature of that kind one never knows what 
happiness means. It might mean martj'rdom.' So you dishko 
Justin Jermyn? " 

"It is not so much dislike as fear that I feel when I think of 
him . \\Tien lam in his society I can hardly help liking him. Ho 
interests and amuses me in spite of myself. But it is his bad 
influence upon you that I fear." 

"My dear Lilian, that is all mere girl's talk. Bad influence, 
bosh ! You don't suppose that my experience of hfe since I went 
to the University has left my mind a blank sheet of paper, to be 
written upon by the first comer. Jermyn is a new acquaintance, 
not a friend, and his influence upon my Ufe is nil. He amuses 
me — that is all — just as he amuses you, by his queer, gnomish 
ways and impish tricks. And now, before you go, tell me about 
Hester Davenport. You have been her friend for the last few 
weeks, and have lightened her burdens. "What will she do when 
you are gone ? " 

" Oh, we shall write to each other. We are going to be friends 
all our Uve«, and when I am settled at the Vicarage we shall see 
each other often. She will come to St. Lawrence every Sunday 
to hear Jack preach." 

"That is something for her to look forward to, no doubt; but 
in the meantime she is to go on with her drudgery, I suppose, 
without even the comfort of occasional intercourse with a girl of 
her own rank. Why could you not persuade her to accept an 
income from me, which would be, at least, enough to provide fur 
her and her father ? " 

" I did not try very hard to overrule her decision, Gerard. In 
my heart I could only agree with her that she could take no sucli 
help from you, or from any one in your position. She could nut 
Bacrifice her independence by allowing herself to be pensioned by a 
stranger." 

"I am not a stranger. I know her father's wretched story, and 
he was my father's curate. That does not make me a stranger. 
I don't think that either you or she can realise the position of 
a man with more money than he knows how to spend, who must 
inevitably squander a great deal of his wealth, waste thousands upon 
futile aims. Why should not such a man sink a few thousands 
to pronde permanently for the comfort of a girl whose story has 
touched his heart? I would so settle the money that she would 



154 Gerard; 07% 

receive the income from year to year, without ever being reminded 
of its som-ce. There would be no humiliation, no sense of 
obhgation ; the thing once done upon my part would be done for 
ever. Why should it not be ? " 

" Because she wiU not have it so. Call her proud, if you Uke — 
I admire her for her pride. She is content with the life she leads. 
She works hard, but she is her own mistress, and she is able to do 
her work at home and to watch over the poor old father, who 
would inevitably fall back into his dreadful ways if she were to 
leave him too much alone, or if they were more prosperous and 
he had the command of money. She has told me that their 
poverty is his salvation." 

" A sorry prospect for a beautiful young woman, who under 
other circumstances might have society at her feet." 

" She does not think of society, or consider herself a victim. 
You have no idea how simple-minded she is. I doubt if she even 
knows that she is lovely — 'Or, if she does, she makes very Hght 
of her beauty. She told me that she had been poor all her life, 
and that nobody had ever made much of her, except her father." 

" And you were able to do very Uttle for her, it seems? " 

" What you would think very little. I could not give her costly 
presents ; her pride would have been up in arms at any attempt to 
patronise her. I gave her books and flowers ; helped her to make 
that poor little lodging-house sitting-room as pretty and homelike 
as simple, inexpensive things could make it. We took some walks 
together in Battersea Park, and one lovely morning she went 
for a drive with me as far as Wimbledon, where we had a luncheon 
of buns and fruit on the common, just hke two schoolgirls. She 
was as gay and bright that morning as if she had not a care in 
the world. I told her that she seemed happier than she had ever 
been at Helmsleigh, and she said that in those days she was 
oppressed by the knowledge of her father's sad failing, which we 
did not know ; but now that we knew the worst, and that he 
seemed really to have reformed, she was quite happy. Indeed she 
has the bravest spirit I ever met with ! " 

" Yes, she is full of courage ; but it is hard, very hard," said 
Gerard, impatiently : and then he began to question Lilian about 
her own ari'angements, and there was no further allusion to Hester 
Davenport; but tliere was a sense of irritation in Gerard's mind 
when he thouglit over his conversation with Lilian in the solitude 
of his own dea. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 155 

" How feeble women are at the best ! " he said to himself, pacing 
to and fro in feverish unrest. "What petty notions of help, 
what microscopic consolations I A few books and flowers, a drive 
or a walk, a Imich of buns upon Wimbledon Common ! Not one 
effort to take her out of that slough of despond — not one attempt 
to widen her horizon; a golden opportunity wasted, for LUian 
might have succeeded where I must inevitably fail. If Lilian had 
been firm and resolute, as woman to woman, she might have swept 
away all "hesitations, all foolish pride. But, no ; she offers her 
humble friend a few flowers and a book or two, and hugs herself 
with the notion that this poor martyr is really happy — that the 
sewing-machine and the shabby lodging are enough for her happi- 
ness—enough for one who should be a queen among women. Why, 
my housemaids are better off — better fed, better lodged, with more 
leisure and more amusements. It is intolerable." 

He had made up his mind that he would go no more to the little 
street in Chelsea. He had gone in the first place as an intruder, 
and had imposed himself upon the father's weakness, and traversed 
the daughter's wish, so plainly expressed to him on their first 
meeting. He hated himself for an act which he felt to be mean 
and unworthy, and he determined that after his formal visit as his 
sister's escort he would go there no more; yet two days after 
Lilian's departure an irresistible desire impelled him to try to see 
Hester again. He wanted to see if there were any justification for 
Lilian's optimistic view of the case — whether there were indeed 
peace and contentment in their humble home. 

He went in the evening, at an hour when he knew Hester was 
to be found at home. However frugally she and her father might 
dine they always dined at seven, so that the old man should not 
suffer that uncomfortable reversal of all old habits which is one of 
the petty stings of poverty. The mutton chop or the little bit of 
fish which constituted his evening meal made a dinner as easily 
as it would have made a supper, and Hester took a pleasure in 
seeing that it was served with perfect cleanliness and propriety, 
a result only attained by some watchfulness over the landlady and 
the small servant. The modest meal was despatched in less than 
half-an-hour, and at half-past seven Hester and her father were 
to be found enjoying their evening leisure — he with his pipe, she 
with a book, which she sometimes read aloud. 

So Gerard found them upon a delicious summer evening, which 
made the conti'ast between Queen's Gate and the poorer district 



156 Gerard ; or, 

westward of Chelsea seem all the more cruel. There all coolness 
and space and beauty, tall white houses, classic porticos, balconies 
brimming over with flowers, gaily-coloured blinds and picturesque 
awnings, the wide expanse of park and gardens, the cool glinting 
of water in the umbrageous distance; here long rows of shabby 
houses, where every attempt at architectural ornament seemed 
only to accentuate the prevailing squalor. And Hester Davenport 
lived here, and was to go on living here, and he with all his wealth 
could not buy her brighter surroundings. 

He stopped at a bookseller's in the King's Koad and bought the 
best copy of Shelley's poems which he could find, and at a florist's 
on his way he bought a large bunch of Marechal Niel roses, and 
with these gifts in his hand he appeared in the small parlour. 

"As my sister is far away, I have ventured to come in her 
stead," he said, after he had shaken hands with father and daughter. 
" And you are more than welcome, Mr. Hillersdon," answered 
the old man. " We shaU miss your sister sadh\ Her little visits 
have cheered us more than anything has done since the beginning 
of our troubles. I hardly know what we shall do without her." 

" I am looking forward to next year, when Miss Hillersdon will 
be Mrs. Cumberland," said Hester, softly, "and when I am to help 
her with her parish work." 

" Can you find time to help other people ; you who work so hard 
already ? " 

" Oh, I shall be able to spare an afternoon now and then, and 
I shall be interested and taken out of myself by that kind of work. 
What lovely roses I " she exclaimed, as he placed the bunch upon 
the Httle table where her open book was lying. 

" I am very glad you like them. You have other flowers, I see," 
glancing at a cluster of white and red poppies in a brown vase, 
"but I hope you will find room for these." 

"Indeed, I will, and with delight. My poor poppies are put to 
shame by so much beauty." 

" And I have brought — my sister asked me to bring you Shelley," 
he faltered, curiously embarrassed in the presence of this one 
woman, and laying down the prettily bound volume with conscious 
awkwardness. 

"Did she really? " asked Hester, wonderlngly ; "I did not think 
Shellev was one of her poots. Indeed, I remember her telling me 
that the Kector had forbidden her to read anything of Shelley's 
beyond a selection of short noems. I dare say she mentioned some 



The World, the Flesh, afid the Devil. 157 

other poet, and your memory has been a little Tagiie. LiUan has 
given me a library of her favourite poets and essajdsts." 

She pointed to a row of volumes on one of the dwarf cupboards, 
and Gerard went over to look at them. 

Yes, there were the poets women love — Wordsworth, Hood, 
Longfellow, Adelaide Proctor, Jean Ingelow, Elizabeth Barrett 
Browning — the poets within whose pages there is security from 
every evil image, from every rending of the curtain that shrouds 
life's darkest pictures, poets whose key-note is purity. No Keats, 
with his subtle sensuousness and heavy hot-house atmosphere. No 
Shelley, with his gospel of revolt against law, human and divine ; 
no Rossetti, no Swinburne ; not even Byron, whose muse, measured 
by the wider scope of latter-day poets, might wear a pinafore and 
feed upon the schoolgirl's bread and butter. The only giant among 
them all was the Laureate, and he was handsomely represented in 
a complete edition. 

" I see you have no Shelley," said Gerard, " so my mistake was 
fortunate." 
'•But if Mr. Hillersdon would not let his daughter read 

Shelley " began Hester. 

" My worthy father belongs to a school that is almost obsolete— 
the school which pretends to believe that the human mind is utterly 
without individuality, or self-restraint, and that to read a lawless 
book is the first stage in a lawless career. You have too much 
mental power to be turned to the right or to the left by any poet, 
be he never so great a genius. Not to have read Shelley is not to 
have tasted some of the loftiest delights that poetry can give us. 
I am opening a gate for you into an imtrodden paradise. I envy 
you the rapture of reading Shelley for the first time in the full 
vigour of your intellect." 

" You are laughing at me when you talk of the vigour of my 
intellect," she said gaily. " And as for your Shelley, I know in 
advance that I shall not like him as well as Tennyson." 

" That depends upon the bent of your mind — whetlier jon are 
more influenced bj' form or colour. Li Tennyson you have the 
calm beauty and harmonious lines of a Greek temple ; in Shelley 
the unreal splendour and gorgeous colouring of the new Jerusalem 
as St. John pictured it in his ecstatic dreams." 

They discussed Hester's poets freely, and went on to the novelists 
and essayists with whom she was most familiar. Dickens and 
Charles Lamb were first favourites, and for romance Bulwer. 



158 Gerard ; or^ 

Thackeray's genius she acknowledged, but considered him at his 
best disheartening. 

" I think for people with whom life has gone badly Carlyle's is 
the best philosophy," she said. 

" But siu-ely Carlyle is even more disheartening than Thackeray," 
objected Gerard. " His gospel is the gospel of dreariness." 

" No, no, it is the gospel of work and noble effort. It teaches 
contempt for petty things." 

They talked for some time, Mr. Davenport joining in the con- 
versation occasionally, but with a languid air, as of a man who 
was only half alive ; and there was an undercurrent of complaining 
in aU he said, which contrasted strongly with his daughter's cheer- 
ful spirit. He spoke more than once of his wretched health ; his 
neuralgic pains, which no medical man could understand or relieve. 

Gerard stayed till past nine, would have lingered even later if 
Hester had not told him that she and her father were in the habit 
of walking for an hour in the coolness of the late evening. On this 
hint he took up his hat and accompanied father and daughter as 
far as Cheyne Walk, where he left them to walk up and down in 
the summer starlight, very lonely in the great busy city, as it 
seemed to him when he bade them a reluctant good night. 

" How lovely she is, but how cold ! " he thought, as he walked 
homeward. " She is more like a picture than a living, suffering 
woman. The old man's reformation sits mieasily upon him. Poor 
wretch, I believe he is longing for an outbreak — would sell half his 
miserable remnant of life for a short spell of self-indulgence." 

Gerard pondered much upon Davenport's so-called reformation, 
in the sincerity of which he had scanty faith. 

It was only because he was penniless that he was sober — the 
longing for alcohol was perhaps as strong as it had ever been. K 
any stroke of luck were to fill his pockets he would break out again 
as badly as of old. It was on this account, doubtless, that his 
daughter was content to live upon a pittance. Poverty meant the 
absence of temptation. 

After this Gerard Hillersdon spent many an evening hour in the 
Davenport menage. He supplied Hester with books and choicest 
flowers, he took newspapers and hot-house grapes to the old man, 
who ate the grapes with a greedy relish, as if he caught faint 
flavours of the vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy in that English 
fruit. His visits and his gifts grew to be accepted as a matter of 
course. Books were Hester's one pleasure, and she often sat reading 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 159 

late into the night, although she was generally at her serving-machine 
before eight o'clock in the morning. She was not one of those 
people who require seven or eight hours' sleep. Her rest and 
recreation were in those midnight hours when her father was sleep- 
ing, and she was alone with her books, sitting in a low wicker chair 
bought for a few shillings fi-om an itinerant basket-maker, in the 
light of the paraffin reading lamp, which her own skilful hands 
prepared every morning. 

Gerard wondered at her placid acceptance of this life of toil and 
monotony. Again and again as he walked slowly up and down 
the shadowy promenade by the river he had sought by insidious 
questionings to discover the lurking spirit of revolt against that 
Fate which had doomed her to life-long deprivations. No word 
of complaint was ever spoken by those beautiful lips, pale in the 
moonlight. The London season had passed her by, with all its 
pleasures, its smart raiment, and bustle of coaching meets and 
throng of carriages and riders in that meeting of the ways by 
Albert Gate whither her footsteps had so often taken her. She 
had seen women, infinitely inferior to herself in aU womanly graces, 
set off and glorified by all the arts of costume and enamel, dyed 
hair and painted eyebrows, into a semblance of beauty, and queenin<T 
it upon the strength of factitious charms : and yet no sense of this 
world's injustice had embittered her gentle spirit. Patience was 
the key-note of her character. If every now and then upon her 
lonely walks a man stopped as if spell-bound at a vision of unex- 
pected beauty, or even turned to follow her, she thought only of 
his unmannerliness, not of her own attractions; and evil as are the 
ways of men few ever ventured to follow or to address her, for the 
earnest face, and the resolute walk, told all but the incorrigible snob 
that she was a woman to be respected. No, she had never rebelled 
against Fate. All that she asked from life was the power to main- 
tain her father in comfort, and to prevent his return to those de^rad- 
ing habits which had made the misery of her girlhood. 

August was half over. West End London was a desert, and still 
Gerard hngered, Gerard the double millionau-e, whom all the loveliest 
spots upon this earth invited to take his pleasure at this holiday 
season. His friends had bored him insufferably with their questions 
and suggestions before they set out upon theu- o-mi summer pilgrim- 
ages. Those mysterious diseases of which one only hears at the 
end of the season had driven their victims in various directions, 
eympatlietically crowding to the same springs, and sunning them- 



i6o Gerard; or, 

selves in the same gardens. The army of martyrs to eczema and gout 
■were boring themselves insufferably in Auvergne — the rheumatics 
•were in Germany — the weak chests and shattered nerves were 
playing tennis at Maloja or St. Moritz — the shooting men were in 
Scotland, the fishermen were in Norway — the idlers, who want 
only to wear fine clothes, do a little baccarat, and dabble in summer 
wavelets, were at Trouville, Etretat, Param^, Dinard, or Dieppe. 
For any man deliberately to stay in London after the twelfth, was 
an act so perverse and monstrous that he must needs find some 
excuse for it in his own mind. Gerard's excuse was that he was 
not a sportsman, had shot all the grouse he ever wanted to shoot, 
that he had seen all of the Continent that he cared to see, and that 
he felt himself hardly strong enough for travelling. The quiet of 
his own house, uninvaded by visitors, pleased him better than the 
finest hotel in Europe, the marble staircases and flower gardens of 
the Grand Bretagne at BeUaggio, or the feverish va-et-vient of the 
comfortable Scbweitzerhof at Lucerne. He wanted rest, and he 
got it in his own rooms, where his every caprice and idiosyncrasy 
found its expression in his surroundings. 

Why should he leave London ? He had invitations enough to 
liave made a small octavo volume, if he had cared to bind and 
pei-petuate that evidence of the worship which Society offers to 
Mammon, invitations worded in every form and phrase that can 
tempt man's vanity or minister to his self-esteem. Invitations to 
castles in Scotland, to moated granges in War^vickshire, to manor 
houses and shooting-boxes in Yorkshire — to the wolds and moora 
of the north, to Dartmoor and Exmoor, to Connemara and Kerry, 
to cverj' point of the compass in the British Isles, and even to 
chateaux in France, and hunting-lodges in Servia, Bohemia, 
Hungarj', and heaven knows where. And every one of these 
invitations, many of them backed with playful allusions to daughters 
who for this or the other of his various accomplishments— tennis, 
chess, music, sketching — were especially eager for his society, 
every one of these invitations he knew was addressed not to him- 
self but to his millions. This adulation filled him with unspeakable 
scorn ; nor if the invitations had been prompted by the most 
genuine friendliness would he have accepted one of them. Why 
Bhould he fall in with other people's habits, or share m pleasures 
not originated by himself, he who could live his own hfe — carry his 
own retinue with him wherever he cared to go — charter the finest 
yacht that had ever been launched — hire the most luxurious of shoot- 



The World, the Flesh, ajid the Devil. i6i 

ing-boses, castles, or chateaux — and take existence at his own 
measure, knowing no ruler but the caprice of the hour ? 

His answer to all these hospitable offers was a polite refusal.' 
His health was too precarious to permit his enjoyment of visits 
which would otherwise be most agreeable. These refusals were 
^^Titten by his secretary and elicited much comment upon the 
insolence of the newly rich, and from the masculine recipients 
various unfriendly allusions to beggars on horseback. 

Thus August drew towards a sultry close and the newspapers, 
no longer absorbed by Parliamentary reports, dressed themselves in 
the feathers of the screech owl and devoted a daOy column to 
cholera, while the livelier and more discursive papers took up some 
topic of the hour, social or domestic, and opened their pages to a 
procession of letters upon the thrilling question of what we shall do 
with our empty sardine tins, or is the stage a safe profession for 
clergymen's daughters, or how to enjoy three weeks' hoHday for a 
five-pound note. If Gerard Hillersdou had no longing for change 
from arid and overbaked streets he was perhaps the only person 
in town whose thoughts did not turn with fond longing towards 
shadowy vales and running streams, towards mountain or sea. 
Even Hester's resigned temper was stirred by this natural longing. 
" How lovely it must be up the river in this weather ! " she said one 
evening when Gerard was stroJling by her side under the trees of 
Cheyne Walk. Her father was with them. In all Gerard's visits 
he had never found her alone — not once had they two talked 
together without a listener, not once had their eyes met without 
the witness of other eyes. A passionate longing sometimes seized 
him as they paced soberly up and down in the summer moonlight, 
a longing to be alone with her, to hold her hands, to look into her 
eyes, and search the secrets of her heart with ruthless questioning 
— but never yet had that desire been gratified. Once on a sudden 
impulse he called at the Chelsea lodging-house in the afternoon, 
knowing that her father often spent an hour or two before dinner at 
the Free Library, but the landlady who opened the door told him 
that Miss Davenport was at her work, and must on no account be 
disturbed. 

" You can at least tell her that I am here, and would be glad to 
see her, if only for a few minutes," said Gerard, and as he had given 
the woman more than one handsome douceur, she went into the 
parlour and gave his message. 

She returned almost immediately to say that Miss Davenport was 



162 Gerard ; or, 

engaged upon work tliat had to be finished that afternoon, and she 
could not leave her sewing-machine. 

The click, click of the hated wheel was audible while the woman 
delivered her message, and Gerard left the threshold, angry with 
Fate and life — angry even with the girl who had denied herself to 
him. 

" It is pride, obstinacy, heartlessness," he told himself, iu his 
disappointment. " She knows that I adore her — that I can make 
her Ufe one summer hoUday ; that I hold the master-key to all the 
world contains of beauty or of pleasure ; and yet she goes on grind- 
ing that odious wheel. She would rather be the drudge of a German 
taUor than the ruler of my Hfe." 

It was while he was in this embittered state of mind that he 
found himself face to face with Justin Jermyn, only a few paces 
from Mr. Davenport's door. 

" I thought you were in the Hartz Mountains," he said, annoyed 
at the encounter. 

" I have been there — have tramped with my knapsack on my 
back, hke a student from Heidelberg or Gottingen, have drunk the 
cup of pleasure at roadside inns, dozed through a long summer day 
on the Brocken, and dreamt of Mephisto and the witches. But one 
day a fancy seized me to come back to London and hunt you up. 
I heard from Roger Larose that you had turned hermit, and were 
Uving secluded in the house he buOt for you — and I, who am some- 
thing of the hermit myself, felt drawn to you by sympathy. Was 
that Gretchen's wheel I heard just now, as I passed the house where 
you were calling? " 

" I have no idea what you may have heard ; but I should hke to 
know what brings you to this particular neighbourhood." 

"Curiosity, and a fast hansom. I saw you driving this way as I 
stood waiting to cross the road at Albert Gate, with the intention 
of calling upon you. Useless to go to your house when you were 
driving away from it, so I hailed a hansom, and told the driver to 
keep yours in view — and so the man drove me to the corner of this 
street, where I alighted from my hansom just as you dismissed 
yours. I passed the house yonder on the opposite side of the way 
while you were talking to the landlady, who took her own time in 
opening the door. You were too much absorbed to notice me as I 
went by, and through the open window I saw a girl working at a 
sewing-machine — a pale, proud face, which flushed crimson when 
the woman announced your visit." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 163 

''' And you expect me to endure the insolence of this espionage ? 
"Whatever your gifts may be, ^Ir. Jermyn, whether you excel most 
as prophet, necromancer, or private detective, I must beg you to 
exercise your talents upon other subjects, and to give me a wide 
berth." 

Justin Jermyn responded to this reproof with a hearty langh.' 
" Nonsense," he said, " you pretend to be angry, but you are not in 
earnest. Nobody is ever angry with me. I am a privileged offender. 
I am everybody's jester. Let me be your fool. Give me the privi- 
leges that emperors of old gave to their jesters. You will find me 
at worst a better companion than your own thoughts." 

" They are gloomy enough at the present moment," said Gerard, 
subjugated at once by that unknown influence which he had never 
been strong enough to resist. ! 

He knew not what the force was by which this young man 
mastered him, but he knew that the mastery was complete. He 
was Justin Jermyn's chose— to be bent this way or that. 

" You are unhappy," cried Jermyn. " You, with the one lever 
which can move the world under your hand. Absurd. If you have 
wishes, realise them. If any man stands in the way of your desire, 
buy him. All men are to be bought — that is an old axiom of Prime 
Ministers — from Wolsey to Walpole — and almost all women. You 
are a fool to waste yourself upon unfulfilled desires, which mean 
fever and unrest. You have the peau de chagrin — the talisman of 
power — in your banking account." 

" Yes, the peau de chagrin — we may take it as an allegorical figure 
to represent the power of money in an age of advanced ci-\nli3ation 
— but while I possess the power I have to remember the penalty. 
"With every passionate desire fulfilled the talisman shrinks, and the 
possessor's life dwindles." 

" No, my friend, it is our unfulfilled desires that shorten our lives 
— our ambitions never reahsed — our hopeless loves. "With realisa- 
tion comes satiety, and satiety means rest. The peril lies in the 
aching hunger of the wish, not in its fruition." 



104 Gerard; of, 



CHAPTER XV; 

*' A MAX CAN HAVE BUT ONE LIFE AM) ONTE DEATH." 

Of all the men he knew, Justin Jermyn was the last whom Gerard 
would have deliberately chosen for a confidant and counsellor. He 
had an innate dread of the man, thought him false, tricky, and un- 
caimy, half a charlatan, and half a fiend ; and yet he was drawn 
towards him by such an irresistible magnetism, and was at this time 
BO sorely in need of some friendly ear into which his egotism could 
pour its complainings, that, after trying to shake off Jermyn by 
absolute incivility, he ended by walking as far as Barnes Common 
with him, where they sat on a furzy hillock in the sweltering August 
afternoon, and smoked and talked in a lazy, desultory fashion. 

So far they talked only of people who were indifi'erent to both. 
Jermyn had a scathing tongue about men and women — but, being a 
man, was naturally most malignant in his estimate of the weaker sex. 

" I believe the generality of men hate all women except the one 
woman they adore," said Gerard, meditatively. " There is a natural 
antagonism in the sexes, as between dog and cat. Turn a httle girl 
loose into a playground of small boys, and if it were not for fear of 
the schoolmaster, there would be no more of her after an hour's 
play than of Jezebel when the dogs ate her. Every boy's hand 
would be against her. They would begin by pulling her hair and 
tripping her up, and then the natural savage in them would go on 
to murder. Look at the way the Sepoys treated women in the 
Indian Mutiny ! That devihsh cruelty was only the innate hatred 
of the sex which asserted itself at the first opportunity. And your 
talk about Mrs. Fontenelle and the pretty Miss Vincent is only the 
civilised development of the same malignity." 

" Perhaps," agreed Jermyn. " But for my own part I am rather 
fond of women in the aggregate, as entomologists are fond of 
butterflies. I like them as specimens. I Hke to pin them down 
upon cork and study them, and make my guesses about their future, 
by the light of their antecedents." 

" And you do not beheve in the unassailable honour of good 
women?" 

" Not in honour for honour's sake. There are women who elect 
to go through hfe with an unspotted reputation, for pride's eake, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 165 

just as an Indian fanatic will hold his arms above his head until they 
Btiffen and wither, for the sake of being looked up to by his fellow- 
men. But honour for honour's sake, honour in a hovel where there 
is no one to praise — honour in the Court of a Louis the Great or a 
Charles the Little — that kmd of honour, my dear Hillersdon, is beyond 
my belief. Kemember I am of the world worldly. My intellect 
and my opinions are perhaps the natural product of a society in its 
decadence." 

" And do you think that a good woman— a woman whose girl- 
hood has been fed upon all pure and holy thoughts, whose chosen 
type of her sex is the mother of Christ — do you think that such a 
woman can survive the loss of reputation, and yet be happy? " 

" Assuredly, if she obtain a fair equivalent — a devoted lover, or a 
life of luxury, with a provision for her old age. The thorn among 
the roses of vice is not the loss of honour, but the apprehension of 
poverty. Anonyma, lolling on the silken cushions of her victoria, 
shivers at the thought that all the luxuries which surround her may 
be as short-lived as the flowers in the park borders, for a season, and 
no more. BeUeve me, my dear Hillersdon, we waste our pity upon 
these ladies when we picture them haunted by sad memories of an 
innocent girlhood, of their parish church, the school-house where 
they taught the village children on Sunday mornings, of broken- 
hearted parents, or sorrowing sisters. Ways and means are what 
these butterflies think about when their thoughts travel beyond the 
enjoyment of the hoiu:. The clever ones contrive to save a compe- 
tence, or to marry wealth. The stupid ones have their day, and 
then drift to the gutter. But conscience — regrets — broken hearts ! 
Dreams, my dear Hillersdon, only dreams." 

A chance hansom took the two yoimg men back to town, and on 
nearing Queen's Gate Gerard invited his companion to dine with 
him. There was nothing new or striking in Justin Jermyn's dis- 
course, but its cheap cynicism suited Gerard's humour. When a 
man is set upon evil, nothing pleases him better than to be told that 
evil is the staple of life — that the wickedness which tempts him is 
common to himianity itself, and can not be wicked because it is 
incidental to human nature. 

They dined ttte-a-Ute in the winter-garden, where the warm air 
rustled among the palm leaves, and the atmosphere was full of the 
scent of roses, climbing roses, standards, dwarfs, which fiUed all the 
available space, and made the conservatory a garden of roses. The 
sliding windows in the lofty dome were opened, and showed a sky, 



1 66 Gerard ; or, 

starlit, profound, and purple, as if this winter-garden near Knights- 
bridge had been some palm grove in one of the South Sea isles. 
The dinner was perfection, the wines the choicest products of 
princely vineyards ; and Hillersdou's guest did ample justice to both 
cuisine and cellar, while Hillersdon himself ate very httle, and 
drank only soda-water. 

" Fortune, which has favoured you so highly in some respects, 
has not blest you with a fine appetite," said Jermyn, when he had 
gone steadily through the menu, and had even insisted upon a second 
supply of a certain chaud-froid of ortolans. 

" There is such a baneful sameness in food and wines," answered 
Gerard. " I believe my chef is an artist who deserves the eminence 
he enjoyed with former masters — but his productions weary me. 
Their variety is more in name than in substance. Yesterday quails, 
to-day ortolans, to-morrow grouse. And if I live till next year the 
quails and ortolans and grouse will come round again. The earliest 
salmon will blush upon mj' table in January ; February will come 
with her hands full of hot-house peaches and Algerian peas ; March 
will offer me sour strawberries and immature lamb. The same — 
the same over and over again. The duckling of May — the gi-een- 
goose, the turkey-poult, the chicken-turbot. I know them all. 
There is truer relish in a red herring which a working-man carries 
home to eat with his tea than in all the resources of a French cook, 
when once we have run through his gamut of delicacies. I remember 
my first Greenwich dinner — rapture — the little room overlooking the 
river, the open windows and evening sunlight, the whitebait, the 
flounder-souch^, the sweetbreads, the iced moselle, food for the 
Olympian gods ! But after many seasons of Greenwich dinners, 
how weary and hackneyed is the feast I " 

" You have possessed your millions little more than a year, and 
already you have learnt how not to enjoy," said Jermyn. " I 
must compliment you upon your progress." 

" Ah, you forget, I knew all these things before I had my fortune 
— knew them in the days when I was only an umbra, knew them 
in otlier people's houses. Money can buy hardly anything for me 
that has freshness or novelty, any more than it conid for Solomon, 
and I have no Queen of Sheba to envy me my splendour until there 
is no more spirit in her. Nobody envies a millionaire his wealth 
nowadays. Millionaires are too common. They live in every street in 
Mayfair. To be worth anybody's en^y a man shoidd have a billion." 

" You be^n to find fault with the mediocrity of your fortune ? " 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 167 

said Jermyn, with his pleasant laugh at human folly. " A little more 
than a year ago you were going to destroy yom-self because you 
were in pecuniary difficulties — harassed by tailors and bootmakers. 
In another year you will be charging the same revolver to end an 
existence that leaves you nothing to hve for, Solomon was not so 
foolish. Indeed, I think that great king was simply the most 
magnificent humbug that the history of the world otfere to the con- 
templation of modern thinkers — a man who could philosophise so 
exquisitely upon the vanity of human life, and yet drain the cup of 
earthly pleasures — sensual, artistic, intellectual — to the very di-e^s ! 
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher ; and, behold 1 the slave market 
sends its choicest beauties to the king. Vanity of vanities, and 
lo ! the ships come into port laden with apes and ivory, with T^Tean 
purple and the gold of Ophu-, for the king ; and the buQding of the 
mighty temple yonder on the holy hill aifords a perpetual interest 
and an inexhaustible pla3i;hing for the man who calls the grass- 
hopper a burden. I'll wager that in Jerasalem they called that 
gorgeous temple Solomon's Folly, and laughed among themselves 
as the great king's litter went up the hiU, with veiled beauty sitting 
m the shadow of the purple curtains, and httle shppered feet just 
peeping out among the embroidered cushions. Solomon in all his 
glory 1 I th in k, Hillersdon, if I were as rich as you, the thing I 
should feel most keenly would be that my money could not buy me 
back one gleam of the glory of the past — not half an hour with the 
guerilla leader David, among the wild hiUs, not one glimpse of 
Jerusalem when Solomon was king, not a night ■with Dido, or a 
dinner with Lucullus. We may imitate that gorgeous past, but we 
can never recall it. Billions would not buy it back for us. All the 
colour and glory of life has faded from an earth that is vulgarised 
by cheap trippers. From Hounslow to the Holy Land one hears 
the same harsh, common voices. German and Yankee accents 
drown the soft Tuscan of the Florentine in the Via Tornabuoni 
tramloads of Cockneys rush up and down the hills of Algeria, camel- 
loads of vulgarity from London and New York pervade the desert 
where Isaiah wandered alone beneath the stars. The hill where 
the worshippers of Baal waited for a sign from their god, the Valley 
of Jehoshaphat, are as banal as Shooter's Hill or the Vale of Health. 
The spirit of romance has fled from our vulgarised planet, and not 
a milliard of golden sovereigns could tempt her back for an hour ! " 
''I should be content to let the past go, if I could be happy in 
the present. That is the difficulty." 



1 68 Gerard; or, 

"Oh, I am always happy. I have fancies, but no passionate 
longings. My only troubles are climatic. While I can follow the 
bunshiae I am content." 

"If you have finished your wine let us go to my den," said 
Gerard, who had allowed his companion's rodomontade to pass by 
him like the faint breath of evening wind among the palm leaves, 
whUe his own thoughts travelled in a circle. " We can't talk freely 
here. I feel as if there were listeners in the shadowy comera 
behind those tree ferns." 

"To your den with all my heart." 

They went upstau's to the room where Gerard's talisman was 
fixed against the wall, behind a Japanese curtaiu. He had not 
lifted the curtain since the night when he fii'st met Hester Daven- 
port, and when the tremulous line which his pen made upon the 
paper showed him that a disturbing element had entered into hid 

life. 

To-night he flimg himself into his accustomed chair wearily, and 
a heavy sigh escaped him, as he pushed aside the books upon the 
table in front of him, and looked at the face of his betrothed in the 
photograph. 

Jermyn was walking round the room looking at everything with 
an amused air. 

" So Uke my old rooms," he said, " I feel quite sorry as I look at 
the things. Mine are sold, dispersed, vanished into thin an-. I 
gave up those old Inn chambers — too uncanny for a man of cheerful 
temperament. I have a. pied a terre in Paris now." 

" What part of Paris ? " 

" Ah, I never tell my address. That is one of my idiosyncrasies. 
But if ever I meet you on the boulevard after the theatres have 
closed, I will take you to my den to supper, and wLU give you 
Margot or Lafitte as good as the Madeira you liked that night in 
the old Inn. By Jove, my image in black marble ! How did you 
come by it?" 

The image was a bust of Pan, and the features and expression of 
the god were the features and expression of Justin Jermyn. AUow 
for the phantasy of goat's ears, and the bust was as line a likeness 
of the Fate-reader as portraiture could have achieved under the 
happiest conditions. 

"Who is the sculptor?" asked Jermyn, hovering over the bust 
with childish pleasure. 

" It is an antique from Sir Humphrey Squanderville's collectioq, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 169 

I found it at Christie's the other day, and I bought it as the best 
substitute I could get for that black marble bust which I saw in 
your rooms." 

" You must be very fond of me, Hillersdon, to have set up my 
image iu your sanctum." 

" Fond of you ! Not in the least. I have a horror of you — but 
I like your society, as a man likes opium. It has a foul taste, and 
he knows it is bad for him ; yet he takes it — craves for it — must 
have it. I could not rest tUl I had your hkeness ; and now that 
grinning mouth of yours is always there to mock at my heartache, 
my doubt, my despair. That broad smile of sensual enjoyment, 
that raptm-e in mere animal life, serve me as a perpetual reminder 
of what a poor creature I am from the pagan point of view — how 
utterly unable to enjoy life from the Pantheist's standpoint, how 
conscious of man's universal heritage — death." 

" ' Death is here and death is there, 
Death is busy everywhere,' " 

quoted Jermyn. " Cheerful poet, Shelley ; an exquisite harper, but 
a good deal of his harping was upon one string — death, dust, anni- 
hilation. It would have been simply inconsistent if he had hved to 
be as old as Wordsworth. But why should my image," posing 
himself beside tlie bust, and laying his long white hand affection- 
ately upon the sylvan god's crisp forelock, " remind you of dismal 
things? My protot}^e and I have the spirit which makes for 
cheerfulness? " 

'■ Your very cheerfulness accentuates my gloom." 

" Gloomy ! With youth and good looks, and ninety thousand a 
year." 

" More than enough for happiness, perhaps, if I had the freehold ; 
but I am only a leaseholder, and I know not how short my lease 
may be. I have pretty good reason to know that it is not a long 
one. Yes, I know that, Justin Jermyn. I know that these things 
belong to me as the dream-palace belongs to the dreamer who 
fancies himself a king." 

" Make the most of your opportunities while they last. To be 
as rich as you are — and to be young — is to command the world. 
There is not a flower in the garden of life that you cannot pluck." 

" You are wrong. I am tied and hampered. I see before me 
one — and only one — chance of supreme happiness, and yet I darq 
not grasp it," 



170 Gerard; or, 

And then in a gush of confidence, in the passionate egotism that 
must talk of self, he told this man whom he distrusted the inmost 
secrets of his heart — told him how he had been moved by the sight 
of Hester's face on the platform in the concert-hall, and how from 
that night he had struggled in vain against the attraction which 
di'ew him towards her. He told Jermyn everything — his intrusion 
upon her life, albeit he knew her desire to avoid all friends of the 
past — told of those quiet hours in the humble lodging, those unalarm- 
ing gifts of flowers and books — told of those slow pacings by the 
river, with the old father always at her side — pouring out his soul 
to this man whom he doubted and feared as freely as a girl tells her 
Btory of hopeless love to a trusted sister. 

" We have never been alone together since that first night in 
Eaton Square. I have never dared even to hold her hand in mine 
with a lingering clasp, and yet when our hands touch there is a fire 
that runs through my veins, till heart and brain are fused in that 
passionate flame, and I can scarce shape the words that bid her 
good-bye. Our talk has been only of commonest things. I have 
never by look or word dared to express my love — and yet I think 
she knows I love her. 1 think that when my heart leaps at the 
Bound of her voice or the touch of her hand her heart is not cold. 
I have seen her lips tremble in the faint evening light when we 
have walked side by side under the trees. I have felt that there 
was eloquence in her silence, in her faltering rephes. Yes, I know 
Bhe loves me." 

" What more do you want — knowing that ? Are you going to 
leave her at her sewing-machine, when you can make her life one 
blissful holiday?" 

" She is not a woman to be had for the asking. Would you 
advise me to fling every worldly consideration to the winds, and 
marry her ? " 

" You cannot marry everybody," replied Jermyn, with a practical 
air, " and I take it you are irrevocably pledged to the lady yonder," 
pointing to the gold and lapis lazuli frame — a gem of jeweller's work 
— on the writing-table. 

" Yes, I am pledged to her." 

" In any case tlio world expects you to marry her — and it will go 
rather hard with her — from a society point of view, if you don't. 
But perhaps you care very little what the world says about Mrs. 
Champion? " 

" I care very much. I am bound to care for her reputation, and 



The Worlds the Flesh, and the Devil. 171 

for her feelings. Till she, of her own free will, release me, I am 
bound to her by every tie that can bind a man of honour." 

" So ! " exclaimed Jermjm, " that means a good deal." 

"It means not one syllable to Edith Champioa's discredit," 
answered Hillersdon, hotly. " She was a faithful wife to her 
husband, and I knew how to respect her position as his wife, 
although I had been her adoring lover. During the three years of 
her married life we were friends, and friends only. It may be that 
we both counted on the days when she would be free, and when 
the thread of the old story might be taken up again just where we 
di'opped it." 

" And now she is free, and you seem hardly to have taken up the 
thread. " 

" It is her fault," said Hillersdon, angrily. " She is beautiful, 
generous, loves me with aD her heart ; but she is fettered by petty 
laws which brave women laugh at. She ran away from me just 
when my salvation lay in her society. I wanted to hold fast by my 
first love. I wanted to live all my life in her company, to lure 
back the loves and graces that had fluttered away, to forget that 
there was another lovely or lovable woman upon this earth ; but 
she told me that people woidd talk, and that it was better we 
should see very little of each other until the period of conventional 
grief was past, and I could decently make Champion's widow my 
wife. So she is sketching snow-peaks at Jtlurren while " 

" "While you are over head and ears in love with Hester Daven- 
port." 

" It is more than love ; it is possession. My world begins and 
ends with her. I tried to run away, tried to start for Switzerland, 
to follow my betrothed to her mountain retreat, in defiance of her 
objection ; but it was a futile eifort. I was at the station ; my 
servant and portmanteau were on the platform ; and at the last 
moment my resolution failed. I could not place myself beyond the 
possibility of seeing the face I worship, of hearing the voice that 
thrills me." 

" And you are content to go on seeing the lovely face and hearing 
the thrilling voice in the presence of a third person ? Isn't that 
rather like being in love with a ward in Chancery, aud courting her 
in the presence of the family lawyer ? Why don't you get rid of 
the old man ? " 

" That's not as easy as you suppose. You saw me sent away 
from Hester's door to-day. She will not receive me in her fathei-'s 



172 Gerard; or, 

absence, and I am not such a cad as to force myself upon her 
seclusion. I behaved badly enough in the first instance when I 
acted in direct opposition to her wish." 

" To her alleged wish. Do you think a woman is ever quite 
candid in these cases, either to her lover or to herself? Look at 
Goethe's Gretchen, for instance, somewhat snappish when Faust 
addresses her in the street, but a few hours after, in the garden ! 
What had become of the snappishness ? She is ocean deep in love, 
ready to throw herself into the lover's arms. I can't conceive how 
you can have gone on with this idle trifling, like an undergraduate 
smitten by a boarding-school miss. You with your millions, your 
short lease of life, your passionate desire to make the most of a few 
golden years. Strange to what hopeless fatuity love can reduce its 
victim ! Get rid of the old father, make a clean sweep of him, and 
then at least the coast will be clear, and you need not confine your 
love-making to half-an-hour's crawl upon the Embankment." 

" How get rid of him ? There's the difiiculty. He has been 
reformed by her care, and it is the business of her hfe to make 
his declining years happy. Nothing would induce her to part with 
him." 

" Perhaps not ; but very little would induce him to part with her. 
Do you suppose that he is not tired of his present life ? Do you 
know w^hat reform means in the habitual drunkard? It means 
deprivation that makes existence a Hving death. It means a per- 
petual craving, a thirst as fierce as that which racks the parched 
traveller in the African desert, the perishing sailor after a week 
scorched upon a raft in mid-ocean : only it is the thirst for alcohol, 
for fire instead of water. To his daughter this poor wretch may 
pretend resignation, but you may be sure he is miserable, and will 
resume his darhng vice at the first opportunil3\" 

" And you would suggest that I should find the opportunity, that 
I should fling him back into the Tophet from which his daughter 
plucked him. No, Jermyn, I am not so vile as that." 

" I suggest nothing. Only if you want to win the daughter you 
must get the father out of the way ; unless, indeed, you prefer to 
take the other line — throw over Mrs. Champion and make a formal 
oSer for Miss Davenport's hand. No doubt the old man would be 
very proud of you as a son-in-law, though you might have some 
occasion to be ashamed of him as a fatlicr-in-law when the oppor- 
tmiities of an establishment like this should lure him back to his old 
habits." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 173 

" I have told you that I cannot break with Edith," 
" And you will marry her next year, while you are still passionately 
in love with another woman ? " 

"I dare not think of next year. I may not live till next year. 
I can think only of the present, and of the woman I love." 

" You are wise. A year is a long time, measured by a passion 
like yours. You have offered Davenport and his daughter an 
income through your sister. You have acted with most admirable 
delicacy, and yet your offers have been rejected. Have you ever 
offered Davenport money, directly— with the golden sovereigns or 
the crisp bank-notes in your hand? " 

" Never. I would not degrade him by any such offer. And I 
believe that he would reject any gift of that kind." 

" A gift perhaps, but not a loan. A man of that kind will alway3 
take your money if you humour his pride by pretending to lend it 
to him. Or there are other ways. He is a good classic, you say, 
or was so once. Let him write a book for you. A literary com- 
mission would be an excuse for giving him ample means for enjoying 
his evenings in his own way, and then your moonlit walks upon the 
Embankment would have the charm which such walks have when 
heart answers to heart." 

" What a villain I should be if I were to take your advice and 
tmdo the work to which that heroic girl has devoted herself for the 
brightest years of her girlhood— those years which for the young 
lady in society mean a triumphant progress of dances and tennis- 
tournaments, and pretty frocks and adulation, a pathway of flowers. 
She has given all the brightness of her youth to this one holy aim, 
and you would have me undo her work." 

" My dear fellow, the end is inevitable. I tell you that for the 
habitual drunkard there is no such thing as reformation. There is 
the semblance of it, while the sinner is cut off from the possibility of 
sin ; but backsliding comes with opportunity, and the reaction is so 
much the more violent because of that slow agony of deprivation 
through which the sinner has been passing. I no more believe in 
Mr. Davenport's reform than the Broad Church believes that Joshua 
stopped the sun." 

The conversation drifted into other channels. They discussed 
that great problem of man's destiny which is always being argued 
in some form or other. They asked each other that universal riddle 
which is always being answered and is yet unanswerable. In this 
line of argument Justin Jermyn showed an impish facility for shifting 



174 Gerard; or, 

his ground ; and at the end of an hour's argnment Hillersdon hardly 
knew whether he was foil of vague aspirations and vague behefs in 
purer and better worlds beyond this insignificant planet, or whether 
his creed was blank negation. 

It was late when they parted, and after the man himself was gone 
Gerard Hillersdon sat for a long time face to face with the marble 
image, the sly smile, the curious sidelong glance of the long narrow 
eyes seeming to carry on the argument, which the living lips had 
dropped, to strange and wicked conclusions. 

"Wealth without limit," mused Gerard, "and so little power to 
enjoy — so brief a lease of life. Why, if I were sure of living to 
eighty or ninety I should still think it hard that the end must come 
— that it is inevitable— foreshadowed in the freshness of life's 
morning; stealing nearer and nearer with the ripening noon; 
hurrying with ever quickening pace in the twilight of life's evening, 
when the last sun-rays gild an open grave. Oh, that inevitable end 
— ^bane of every Hfe,but most hideous where wealth makes existence 
a kind of royalty. I shudder when I read the wills of triple or 
quadruple millionaires. The riches remain — a long array of figures, 
astounding in their magnitude — and the man who owned all that 
gold is lying in the dark, and knows the end of all things." 

He went over to the wall against which he had affixed his 
talisman, drew aside the curtain, and then stepped quickly back to 
the table and dipped his pen in the ink. It was the same large 
broad-nibbed pen with which he had drawn the last line upon the 
night after his interview with Hester Davenport. He dashed his 
pen upon the paper in a fury, and drew an inner line with one 
hurried sweep of his wrist If determination could have assured 
firmness that line would have been bold and strong as Giotto's 0; 
but the tracing was even weaker than the last, and might have been 
the effort of a sick man, so feebly did the line falter from point to 
point." 

"Dr. South and Justin Jermyn are right," thought Gerard. "It 
is passionate feeling that saps the life of a man — most of all a 
hopeless passion — most of all a struggle between honour and 
incUnation. I will see South to-morrow, and if he tells me the 
shadows are deepening upon the dial — if " 

The sentence remained unfim'shed even in his own mind. He 
spent a restless night, broken by brief slumbers and long dreams — 
vivid dreams in which he was haunted by the image of Nicholas 
Davenport, under every strange and degrading aspect. In one 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 175 

dream he was in bis father's chnrch at evensong in the quiet 
summer evening. He heard the organ and the voices of the vilhige 
choir in the closing phrases of his mother's favourite hymn, " Abide 
with me : " and amidst the hush that followed the Amen he saw 
Nicholas Davenport lolling over the worn velvet cushions of the old- 
-fashioned pulpit, gesticulating dumbly, mad with drink, but voiceless. 
There was no sound in the church after that tender closing phrase 
of the hymn. All that followed was silence ; but as he looked at 
that degraded figure leaning out of the pulpit the church changed 
to the pit of hell, and the village congregation became an assembly 
of devils, and on the steps of Satan's throne stood a figure like 
Goethe's Mephistopheles, and the face under the httle red cap with 
the cock's feather was the face of Justin Jermyn. 

There was nothing strange in the fact that he should so dream, 
for he had long ago in his own mind likened the Fate-reader to 
Goethe's fiend. 

Gerard drove to Harley Street before ten o'clock next morning, 
and was lucky in catching Dr. South, who was in London, en 
passant, having finished his own cure at Homburg, and being on 
the point of starting for a holiday at Braemar. 

There were no patients in the waiting-room, as the doctor was 
supposed to be out of town, and on sending in his card Gerard was 
at once admitted to the consulting-room. 

Dr. South looked up from his pile of newly-opened letters with a 
pleasant smile. 

" My little patient of the Devonshire Eectory," he said cheerily; 
and then, ^\^th a keen look and a changed tone, he said, " But how 
is this, Mr. Hillersdon, you are not looking so well as when you 
were here last. I'm afraid you have been disregarding my advice I " 

" Perhaps I have," Gerard answered gloomily. " You told me 
that in order to spin out the thin thread of my life I must only 
vegetate, I must teach myself to become a human jelly-fish, without 
passions or emotions, thought or desire." 

"I did not forbid pleasant emotions," said Dr. South; "I only 
urged you to avoid those stormy passions which strain the cordage 
of the human vessel, and sometimes wreck her." 

" You urged that which is impossible. To Hve is to feel and to 
suffer. I have not been able to obey you. I am passionately in 
love with a woman whom I cannot marry." 

" You mean that the lady is married already ? " 



1/6 Gerard; or, 

" No ; but there are other reasons " 



" If it is a question of social inequality, waive it, and man^y. 
You cannot afford to be unhappy. The disappointment which 
another man would get over in a year, might in your case have a 
fatal effect. You are not of the temper which can live down 
trouble." 

" Tell me, frankly and ruthlessly, how long I have to live." 

" Take off your coat and waistcoat," said the doctor quietly, and 
then, as his patient obeyed, he said, " I should be an impudent 
empiric if I pretended to measure the sands in the glass of life, but 
I can, if you like, tell you if your chances now are any worse than 
when you were with me last year. I remember your case perfectly, 
and even what I said to j'ou at that time. I was especially 
interested in you as one of my little patients who had faith enough 
to come back to me in manhood. Now let me see," and the 
thoughtful head was bent to listen to that terrible tell-tale machinery 
we all carry about with us, ticking off the hours that remain to each 
of us in this poor sum of life. The downward bent brow was unseen 
by the patient, or he might have read his doom in the physician's 
countenance. When Dr. South looked up his features wore only 
the studied gravity of the professional aspect. 

" Well," questioned Hillersdon, when the auscultation was finished, 
•' am I much worse than when I was here last? " 

" You are not any better." 

" Speak out, for God's sake," cried Gerard, roughly, " I — I beg 
your pardon, doctor, but I want the truth, the whole truth, and 
nothing but the truth, no making the best of a bad case. What is 
the outlook ? " 

" Bad." 

"Shall I Hve a year— two— three years? How much do you 
give me?" 

" With care— extreme care— you may live some years yet. Nay, 
I do not say that you might not last ten years; but if you are 
reckless the end may come quickly. Worry, agitation, fretting of 
any kind may hasten your doom. I am sorry to be obliged to tell 
you this." 

"I thank you for having told me the truth. It settles one 
question, at least. I shall try to be happy my own way." 

" Marry the woman you love, even if she is a housemaid," said 
the doctor, kindly, " and let her make your life happy in some quiet 
retreat, far from the excitements and agitations of the world of 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 177 

fashion or politics. You will go to the South, of course, before the 
winter. I should recommend Sorrento or Corsica. Your wealth 
will surround you with all the luxuries that make life easy wherever 
a man has to live," 



CHAPTER XVI. 

" HE IS THE VEKT SOUL OF BOUNTY." 

Gerard Hillersdon left Harley Street almost persuaded to break 
faith with the woman he had loved for more tlian three years, 
and ot% himself to Ae woman he had loved less than three 
months. But that one word "almost" lost the early Christian 
Church a royal convert, and Gerard had not quite made up his 
mind to marry Nicholas Davenport's daughter. 

" So short a lease of life — and were I but happy with such a wife 
as Hester I might prolong my span to the uttermost," he told him- 
self, and then that advocate of evil which every worldly man has at 
his elbow whispered, " Why marry her, when your wealth would 
enable you to make so liberal a settlement that she need never feel 
the disadvantage of a false position ? Win her for your mistress, 
cherish and hide her from the eye of the world. To marry her 
would be to bring a drunken madman into the foreground of your 
life — to cut off every chance of distinction in the few years that may 
be left to you. A man in your position can be true to Esther with- 
out renouncing Vashti. And your Vashti has been loyal and con- 
stant. It would be the act of a villain to break faith with her." 

As if to accentuate that eval counsel ho found a letter from Vashti 
waiting for him on his study table — a letter upon which Vashti's 
image was smilmg, beautiful in court plumes and diamonds. There 
was nothing new in her letter, but it stabbed him where he was 
weakest, and tlie writer dwelt fondly upon her trust in him, and 
upon that happy future which they were to lead together. 

He dawdled away the summer noontide in his garden, smoking, 
and dreaming, and he drove to Rosamond Road, Chelsea, at the 
hour when he knew he was likely to find Nicholas Davenport alone. 
His horses and stablemen had been idle of late, as he always em- 



1/8 Gerard ; or, 

ployed a hansom when he went to Chelsea — and the inquiry, 
" would the horses be wanted any more to-day ? " was generally 
answered in the negative. 

He found the old man dozing in his arm-chair, with the 
Standard lying across his knees. He looked pale and worn, the 
mere wreck of a man, his sOvery hair falling in loose wisps over 
the high, narrow forehead. There were fresh flowers in the room, 
and all was exquisitely neat, from the books upon the dwarf cup- 
board to the muslin cover of the sewing-machine. Gerard seldom 
entered that room without being reminded of Faust's emotion in 
Gretchen's modest chamber — where, in the gentle maiden's absence, 
he felt her spirit hovering near him, her pure and innocent mind 
expressed in the purity and neatness of her surroundings. 

He had time to glance round him, and to recall that scene— Ein 
kleines, reinliches Zimmer — before Nicholas Davenport started up 
out of his light slumber, and shook hands with him. 

" This is uncommonly kind of you," said the old man. " These 
Bummer afternoons are infernally long when Hester is out of the way. 
And the papers are as dull as ditchwater — politicians on the stump 
all over the countiy — one Parliamentary machine thrashing his 
bundle of political corn at Leeds on Tuesday, and another machine 
thrashing the very same bundle of facts and fallacies, and prophecies 
that never come true, at Halifax I And so the ball rolls on." 

"I dare say if we had lived at Athens we should have found 
politics just as gi-eat a bore, and orators no less windy," answered 
Gerard, lightly. " But you are not looking well, Mr. Davenport." 

"I am feeling a little low to-day — the weather, perhaps," and 
here the old man sighed, and began to fold up his newspaper with 
the tremulous movement of hands that had never recovered the 
firmness or repose lost under the influence of alcohol. " To be 
candid with you, my dear Hillersdon, 1 am suffering from a pro- 
found misapprehension in one of the best of creatines. My daughter 
is an angel. Her devotion to me " — here the ready tears stole 
down his withered cheeks — *' is beyond all praise ; but she is a 
woman, and a young woman, and she doesn't understand my con- 
Btitution, or the circumstances of my life. She has taken up tem- 
perance as a craze, and she thinks she is doing me a kindness by 
depriving me of every form of stimulant. She hugs herself with the 
idea that she has saved me from destruction, and she cannot see 
that she is reducing me to a state of weakness, mental and physical, 
which must result in imbecility or death.' ' 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, 179 

He was so earnest, he looked bo reduced and wretched a being 
that Gerard was inclined to believe him, and to doubt whether 
Hester's system might not be a mistake. 

" It is hard for you, I dare say, to make so complete a change in 
your habits," he said doubtfully. 

" Her mistake is in insisting upon total abstinence. I have not 
forgotten tlie past, Mr. Hillersdon. I have not forgotten the degra- 
dation and disgrace which I have brought upon myself in your 
father's church ; but that unhappy exhibition was the outcome of 
long months of agony. I had been racked by neuralgia, and the 
only alleviation of my pain was the use of chloral or brandy. I have 
been free from neuralgic pain of late. My poor Hester is very 
careful of my diet, and takes the utmost care of my health after her 
own lights ; but she cannot see how weak and depressed I am. She 
cannot understand the mental misery which a glass of sound port, 
twice a day, might cure." 

" Surely Miss Davenport would not object to your taking a glass 
of port after your luncheon and your dinner? " 

" You don't know her, my dear friend," said Davenport, shaking 
his head. " Women are always in extremes. She would begin to 
cry if she saw me with a glass of wine in my hand, would go on her 
knees to ask me not to drink it. She has taken it into her head 
that the least indulgence in that line would bring about a return to 
habits of intemperance, which I can assure you were never a part of 
my nature." 

" I must talk to Miss Davenport, and induce her to let me send 
you a few dozen of fine old port, Cockburn's '57, for instance." 

The old man's eyes gleamed as he heard the offer. 

" You may talk to her," he said, " but she won't give way. She 
has made up her mind that my salvation depends upon living in 
her way. It is a hard thing for a man of my age to depend 
for subsistence upon a daughter's manual labour, to see a lovely 
girl wearing out her life at vulgar drudgery, and never to have 
sixpence in my pocket — hardly the means of buying a newspaper. 
She doles out her pence, poor child, as if they were sovereigns. 
"Women have such narrow notions about money." 

There was a silence of some minutes, during which Davenport 
nearly fell asleep again, and then Gerard said quietly — 

" Why should yon depend upon your daughter, even for pocket- 
money ? Why not do something for yourself? " 

" What can I do ? I have tried to get copying work, but I could 



I So Gerard; or, 

not -write a clerk's hand. My penmanship was too weak and 
illegible to be worth even the starvation wages paid for that kind of 
work." 

" I was not thinking of so poor an occupation. Have you tried 
your hand at literature ? " 

" I have, in more than one line, though I had no vocation, and 
wrote slowly and laboriously. The articles I sent to the magazines 
all came back, ' Declined with thanks.' My daughter was the poorer 
by so many quires of Bath post and so many postage stamps." 

" You tried a wrong line, I dare say. Beginners in literature 
generally do. You are a good classic, I know." 

"I was once, but the man who took his degree at Oxford thirty 
years ago is dead and gone." 

" Men don't forget Homer or Virgil when they have once loved 
them with the scholar's fervour." 

" Forget, no. One does not forget old friends. Quote me any 
line firom Horace or Virgil — the most obscure — and I will give you 
the context. Those two poets are interwoven with the fabric of my 
brain. I used also to be considered a pretty good critic upon the 
Greek Dramatists. I once got half way through a translation of 
(Edipus, which some of my contemporaries were flattering enough 
to persuade me to finish. I laid the manuscript aside when I began 
parish work, and Heaven knows what became of it." 

"The world has grown too frivolous to care for translations of 
Sophocles," rephed Gerard, " but I beheve there is room for a new 
Horace — that is to say a new version of some of the lighter satires — a 
version which should be for the present epoch what Pope's was for 
the time of Queen Anne ; and I feel that it is in me to attempt the 
thing if I had the aid of a competent scholar — Hke yourself." 

The old man's face lighted up with feverish eagerness. 

" Surely your own Latin " he began tremulously. 

" Has grown sadly rusty. I want a new version of my favourite 
satires — a verbatim translation, reproducing the exact text in clear, 
nervous English, and upon that 1 could work, giving the old lines a 
modem turn, modulating the antique satire into a modern kev. 
Will you collaborate with me, Mr. Davenport? Will you under 
take the scholarly portion of the work ? " 

" It is a task which will delight me. The very idea gives me new 
life. Which of the satires shall we start with? " 

" Shall we say the ninth in the first book ? It gives such a fine 
opportunity for the castigation of the modern bore." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, i S i 

" Capital. I am proud to think that with so many translations 
ready to your hand you should prefer a new one by me." 

" I want to avoid all published versions," answered Gerard, 
plausibly ; as he opened a note-case. 

The old man watched him with greedy eyes, and the weak lips 
quivered faintly. Did that note-case mean payment in advance ? 

The question was promptly answered. Gerard took out a couple 
of folded notes, and handed them to his future collaborator. 

" You must allow me to give you two hundred pounds on account," 
he said. "You will then at least have the feeling that your 
scholarship is worth something, and that you are not wholly 
dependent on your daughter's labour." 

The old man fairly broke down, and burst into tears. 
" My dear young friend, your delicacy of feeling, your generosity 
overcome me," he faltered, clutching the notes with shaking fingers, 
" but I cannot — I cannot take this money." His hold of the notes 
tightened involuntarily as he spoke, in abject fear lest he should 
have to give them back. " I suspect your proposed translation is 
only a generous fiction — devised to spare me the sense of humiliation 
in acceptmg this munificent honorarium. I own to you that the 
work you propose would be full of interest for me. I perceive the 
opportunities of those satires — treated as freely as Pope treated 
them — the allusions, political, social, literary— and to a writer of 
your power — who have made your mark in the very morning of life 
by a work of real genius — the task would be easy." 

" You will help me, then ? " said Gerard, his hollow cheek flushing 
with a hectic glow. 

■' With all my heart, and to the utmost of my power," answered 
Davenport, slipping the notes into his waistcoat-pocket as if by an 
automatic movement. " Without conceit I think I may venture to 
say that for the mere verbal work you could employ no better 
hack." 

" I am sure of that, and for much more than merely verbal work. 
And now, good day to you, Mr. Davenport. It is about your 
daughter's time for coming home, and she won't care to find a visitor 
here when she comes in tired after her walk." 

*' Yes, she will be here directly," answered the old man, starting 
as with some sudden apprehension, " and on second thoughts I 
would rather you did not tell her anything about our plans until they 
are carried out. TMien your book is published she will be proud, 
very proud, to know that her old father has helped in so distinguished 



l82 Gerard; or, 

a work ; but in the meantime if you changed your mind, and the 
book were never finished, she would be disappointed ; and then, on 
the other hand, I should not like her to know that I had so much 
money in my possession." 

All this was faltered nervously, in broken sentences, while Mr. 
Davenport followed his patron to the door, and showed him out, 
eagerly facilitating his departure. 

Gerard had dismissed his cab on arriving, and he walked slowly 
away towards the river, carefuUy avoiding that road by which 
Hester was likely to return. He was pale to the lips, and he felt 
like a murderer. 



CHAPTER XVn. 

"so, QUIET AS DESPAIE, I TUICS'ED FKOM HIM." 

Gerard called in Rosamond Road on the following evening at the 
hour when he had been accustomed to find Mr. Davenport reposing 
after his comfortable little dinner, and his daughter reading to him. 
To-night the open window showed him Hester sitting alone in a 
despondent attitude, with an unread book on the table before her. 

She came to the door in answer to his knock. 

" My father is out," she said. " He did not come home to dinner. 
He went out early in the afternoon while I was away, and he left a 
little note for me, saying that he had to go into London to meet an 
old friend. He did not teD me the friend's name, and it seems so 
strange, for we have no friends left. We have drifted away from 
all old ties." 

" Jilay I come in and talk with you ? " Gerard asked. " I am so 
Borry you should have any cause for uneasiness." 

" Perhaps I am foolish to be uneasy, but you know — you know 
why. I was just going for a little walk. It is so sultry indoors, 
and we may meet him." She took her hat from a peg in the passage, 
and put it on. " We are not very particular about gloves in this 
neighbourhood," she said. 

He perfectly understood that she would not receive him in her 
father's absence, that even in her fallen estate, a work-girl among 
other work-girls, she clung to the conventionalities of her originaJ 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 183 

sphere, and that it would not be easy for him to break through 
them. 

They walked to the end of Rosamond Road almost in silence, 
but on the Embankment, with the dark swift river flowing past 
them, and the summer stars above, she began to tell him her 
trouble. 

*' You know how happy I have been," she said, " in a life which 
many girls of my age would think miserable and degraded." 

"Miserable, yes; degraded, no. The most feather-headed girl 
in England, if she knew your Ufe, would consider you a heroine." 

" Oh, please don't make so much out of so little. I have done no 
more than hundreds of girls would do for a dear old father. I was 
BO proud and happy to think that I had saved him — that he was 
cured of that fatal vice — and now, now I am full of fear that since 
yesterday, somehow or other, he has obtained the means of falling 
back into the old habit — the habit that wrecked him." 

" What makes you fear this ? " 

" He insisted upon going out last night after dinner. He waa 
going to the Free Library to look at the August magazines. I 
offered to go there with him. We used to read there of an evening 
in the winter, but since the warm weather began we have not done 
so. I reminded him how hot the reading-room would be with the 
gas, but he was unusually eager to go, and I could not hinder him. 
The worst sign of all was that he did not like my going with him, 
and when we had been sitting there for half-an-hour he seemed 
anxious to get rid of me, and reminded me of some work which he 
knew I had to finish before this morning. But for that work I 
should have stayed with him till he came home ; but I could not 
disappoint my employer, so I left my father sitting engrossed in 
' Blackwood,' and I hoped all would be well. He promised me to 
come straight home when the library closed, and he came home 
about the time I expected him, but one look m his face, one sentence 
from his lips told me that by some means or other he had been able 
to get the poison which destroys him." 

" Are you not exaggerating the evil in your own imagination ? " 
asked Gerard, soothingly. " After all, do you think that a few 
glasses too much once in a way can do your father any harm ? He 
has seemed to me below par of late. He really may suffer from 
this enforced abstinence." 

" Suffer I Ah, you do not know, you do not know I I may 
eeem hard with him, perhaps, but I would give my life to keep him 



io4 Gera7'd ; or, 

from that old hon'or — that madness of the past, which degraded a 
frentleman and a scholar to the level of the lowest drunkard in London. 
There is no difference — the drink madness makes them all alike. 
And now that some one has given him money all my care is useless. 
I cannot think who can have done it. I don't know of any so-called 
friend to whom he could apply." 

" His letter tells you of an old friend " 

" Yes ! It may be some one who has returned from abroad — 
Eome friend of years ago who knows nothing of his unhappy story, 
and cannot guess the harm that money may do." 

"Pray do not be too anxious," said Gerard, taking her hand and 
lifting it to his lips. 

She snatched the small cold hand away from him indignantly. 

" Pray don't," she said. " Is this a time for idle gallantry, and to 
me of all people — to me who have to deal only with the hard 
things of this Ufe ? " 

"No, Hester, but it is a time for love — devoted love — to speak. 
You know that I love you." 

He took the poor little gloveless hand again and held it fast, and 
kissed the work-worn fingers again and again. 

" You know that I love you, fondly, dearly, with aU my soul. 
Hester, only yesterday my doctor told me that I have not many 
years to spend upon this planet — perhaps not many months. He 
told me to be happy if I could — happy with the woman I love, for 
my day of happiness must be brief even at the best. It is but a 
poor remnant of life that I offer, Hester, but it means all myself-^ 
mind and heart and hope and dreams are all centred and bound up 
in you. Since I have known you — since that first night under the 
stars when you were so hard and cold, when you would have nothing 
to say to me — since that night I have loved only vou, lived only for 
you." 

She had heard him in despite of herself, her free will straggling 
against her love, like a bird caught in a net. Yes, she loved him. 
Her desolate heart had gone to him as gladly, blindly, eagerly aa 
his heart had gone to her. There had been no more hesitation, no 
more doubt than in Margaret in the garden, when in a sweet 
piraplicity that scarce knew fear of shame, she gave her young heart 
to her unknown lover. Hester's lore was just as pure, and fond, and 
unselfish ; but she had more knowledge of danger than Goethe's 
guileless maiden. She knew that peril lay in Gerard Hillersdon's 
love — generous, reverential even, as it might seem. It was only a 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 185 

year ago that she had sat, late into the night, reading Clarissa 
Harlowe, and she knew how tender, how delicate, how deeply 
respectful a lover might seem and yet harbour the basest designs 
against a woman's honour. 

"You have no right to talk to me like this," she said indignantly. 
" You take advantage of my loneHness and my misery. Do you 
think I can forget the distance your fortune has set between us ? I 
know that you are bound to another woman — that you will marry a 
woman who can do you honour before the world. I know that 
in England wealth counts almost as high as rank, and that a 
marriage between a millionaire and a work-girl is out of the 
question." 

" A lady is always a lady, Hester. Do you think your womanly 
dignity is lowered in my esteem because you have toiled to support 
your father — do you think there is any man in England who would 
not admire you for that self-sacrifice ? Yes, it is true that I am 
bound in honour to another woman — to a woman whom I loved 
four years ago, and whom I thought this world's one woman — but 
from that first night when I followed you across the Park — when 
you sent me away from you so cruelly, the old love was dead. It 
died in an hour, and no effort of mine would conjure the passion 
back to life. I knew then how poor a thing that first love was — a 
young man's fancy for a beautiful face. My love for you is different. 
I should love you as dearly if that sweet face of yours was faded 
and distorted — if those sweet eyes were blind and dim. I should 
love you as the clerk loved the leper — with a passion that no outward 
circumstance could change." 

They were walking slowly under the trees — in the warm dark- 
ness of a breathless August night. He had his arm round her, and 
though her face was turned from him she did not repulse him. 
She let his arm clasp her, and draw her nearer and nearer, till it 
seemed as they moved slowly under the wavering branches as if 
they were one already. Other obligations, the opinion of the world, 
the past, the future, what could these matter to two beings whose 
hearts beat throb for throb, in the sweet madness of newly-spoken 
love ? 

" Dearest, say you love me. I know it, I know it — only let me 
hear, let me hear it from those h'ps. Hester, you love me, you 
love me." 

Her face was turned to him now — pale in that faint light of 
distant stars, dark violet eyes still darker in the shadow of ni^rt. 



1 86 Gerard: or, 

Their lips met, and between his passionate kisses he heard the faint 
whisper, " Yes, I love you — love you better than my life — but it 
cannot be." 

" What cannot be — not love's sweet union — all our life, my poor 
brief life, spent together in one unbroken dream, like this, like thia, 
and this " 

She wrenched herself out of his arms. 

" You know that it cannot be — you know that you cannot marry 
me — that it is cruel to try to cheat me — with sweet words that 
mean nothing. No man ever kissed me before — except my father. 
You have made me hate myself. Let me go — let me never hear 
your voice again." 

" Hester, is there no other way ? Do you want the marriage law 
to bind us? Won't you trust in me — won't you believe in me — aa 
other women have trusted their lovers, all the world over ? " 

" Don't," she cried passionately, " why could you not leave those 
words unspoken ? Why must you fill my cup of shame ? I knew 
those hateful words would come if ever I let you tell me of your 
love, and I have tried to hinder your telling me. Yes, I knew what 
your love was worth. You will keep your promise to the great 
lady — your sister told me about her — and you would let me lose 
my soul for your love. You have been trying to win my heart — so 
that I should have no power to resist you — but I am not so weak 
and helpless a creature as you think. Oh, God, look down upon 
my loneliness — motherless, fatherless, friendless — take pity upon 
me because I am so lonely. I have none but Thee." 

She stood with clasped hands, looking skyward in the moonlight ; 
sublime in her simple faith, even to the unbeliever. 

" Hester, do you think that God cares about marriage lines ? He 
has made His creatures to love as we love. Our love cannot be 
unholy in His sight — any more than the un wedded love of Adam 
and Eve in the Garden." 

" He never made us for dishonour," she answered firmly. " Good 
night, Mr. Hillerisdon — good night and good-bye." 

She turned and walked quickly, with steady steps, towards 
Rosamond Road. A minute ago he had held her clasped close in 
his enfolding arms, had felt the tumult of her heart mixing with the 
tumult of his own — had counted her all his own, pledged to him 
for ever by those passionate kisses, those tears which mingled with 
his tears, tears of joy and triumph, the hysterical fervour of exultant 
love. And now bhe called him " Mr. Hilleradon," and tuined her 



The Woi4d, the Flesh, and the Devil. 187 

back upoD him as coolly as upon any importunate adventurer — 
invincible m her purity, although she loved him. 

Angry, despairing, his thoughts took a sudden turn — worthy of 
Lovelace. He told himself that he would diplomatise — rtculer 
pour mieux saiiter. 

" Let me walk with you to your door at least," he said, " if it is 
to be good-bye." 

She made no answer, and he walked by her side, watching her 
profile in the dim light. She had wiped away her tears, her hot 
blushes had faded to marble pallor, her hps were firmly set, as if 
the face were verily marble, delicately chiselled by some old-world 
sculptor. 

" Hester, you are very cruel to me." 

" It is you who are cruel. Most of all when you tried to trade 
upon my weakness, to frighten me by saying you have not long to 
live. That was the cruellest of all." 

" But it is tnie, Hester — as true as that you and I are walking 
here side by side. When I first came into my fortune, knowing 
myself far from strong, I went to a dear old doctor who saved my 
life from a sharp attack of lung disease when I was a little boy. I 
saw him more than a year ago, and he was not particularly hopeful 
about me even then. He warned me that I must live carefully, that 
all strong emotions would tend to shorten my days. I saw him 
again yesterday, for I was bent on knowing the worst. He was all 
kindness and all tinith. He told me that I had changed for the 
worse within the year that was gone, and that only by extreme 
carefubess could I prolong my life for a few years. And then he 
bade me go and be happy, as if that were such an easy thing to do." 

" It must be easy for you to be happy. You have all the world 
to choose from," she said falteringly. 

" A futile privilege if there is only one thing in the world that I 
want. Deny me that and you reduce me to misery." 

" Did your doctor really say that you have but a few years to 
live ? " she asked, and he knew by her voice that she was crying, 
though her face was averted. "Don't try to make me unhappy. 
I'm sure it is not tnie that he said so. Doctors don't say such things." 

" Sometimes, Hester. Even a physician will tell the truth when 
he is hard pressed. My doctor spoke very plainly. It is only in 
a life of calm — which means a life of happiness — that I can hope 
to prolong my existence a few years — just the years that are best 
and brightest, when love lights them. If I am worried and un- 



iS8 Gerard ; or, 

happy my life will be a question of months instead of years. But 
if you do not care for me that makes no difference to you." 

" You know that I care for you. Should I be speaking to you 
now — anxious about your health — after what you have said to me, 
if I did not care for you ? If love were not stronger than pride, I 
Bhould never have spoken to you again. But I am speaking to you 
to-night for the last time. Our friendship is at an end for ever." 

" Our friendship never began, Hester. From the first I had but 
one feeling about you, and that was passionate love, which takes 
no heed of difficulties, does not forecast the future. I was wrong, 
perhaps, hampered as I am, to pursue you ; but I followed where 
my heart led ; I could not count the cost for you or for me. You 
are right — you are wise. We must part. Good night, dear love, 
and good-bye." 

His tone was firm and deliberate. She believed him — believed 
that he was convinced, and that trial and temptation were over. 
She turned to him with a choking sob, put her hand in his, and 
whispered good-bye. Those two hands clasped each other pas- 
sionately, but with briefest pressure. She hurried from him to the 
little iron gate, let herself in at the unguarded door — what need of 
locks and bolts when there was so little to tempt the thief? — and 
vanished from his sight. 

He went back to the river side, and sat there for an hour or more 
watching the tide flow by, and thinldng, thinking, thinking of the 
woman he loved and the brief span he had for love or for life. 

" And she can believe that I renounce her — knowing that she 
loves me — having held her in my arms and felt her sweet lips 
trembling against my own in love's first kiss. How simple women 
are ! " 

It was eleven o'clock before he remembered that he had asked 
Jermyn to sup with him at midnight. He walked home, for his 
heated brain and throbbing pulses needed active movement. He 
walked faster than he had walked three or four years ago, when he 
was a strong man. He thought of many things upon his way 
through streets that were still full of traffic and busy life, and once 
or twice as he caught the expression of a passing face he saw a 
kind of wondering horror in strange eyes that looked at him. 

" I must be looking miserably ill to-night," he thought, after one 
of those casual glances. " Perhaps I am even worse than Dr. South 
Beemed to think me. He questioned me about my family history, 
and I rather shirked the suliject — paltered with the tmth — told him 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 189 

my father and mother are aUve and well. But the history is bad 
all the same. Bad, decidedly bad. Two lovely young sisters of 
my mother faded off this earth before they saw a twentieth birthday, 
and an micle I can just remember died at three and thirty. My 
family history won't justify a hopeful view of a bad case." 

He supped with Jermyn, and sat late into the night, and drank 
deeper than his wont, and he told Jermyn the story of his love. Of 
his free will he would not have chosen Justin Jermyn for a con- 
fidant, and yet he poured out all his hopes and dreams, the whole 
history of his passion in all its weakness and all its strength to this 
man whose mocking cynicism continually revolted him. Yet it 
may be that the cynic's companionship was the only society he 
could have endured at this stormy period. The voice of conscience 
must be stifled somehow ; and how could it be so easily drowned 
as by this spirit of evil which denied the existence of good, which 
laughed at the idea of virtue and honour in man or woman ? 

'■'■ If the first man who put a fence round a bit of land and called 
it his was an enemy to his feUow-men," said Justin Jermyn, " what 
of the first man who set up a narrow standard of conduct, a hard 
and fast rule of morality, and said by this standard and by this line 
and rule of mine shall men act and live for evermore, whether they 
be happy or miserable? Along this stony road, hedged in with 
scruples and prejudices, shall men tramp painfully to their dull and 
dreary end ; yes, even while, in the fair open country on either side 
those thorny fences, joy and love and gladness beckon to gardens 
of roses and valleys fairer than Eden. Why torment yourself 
because you have given a fooUsh old man the means of indulging 
freely in his favourite vice — an innocent vice, since it hurts none but 
himself — whereby you have perhaps provided for him the happiest 
days of his life ? " 

" I have given him the means of breaking his daughter's heart," 
said Gerard, remorsefully. 

" Skittles I No woman's heart was ever yet broken by a drunken 
father. It needs a nearer and dearer love than the filial to break 
hearts. All that Hester Davenport wants in this life is to be happy 
with the man she loves. The drunken father might prove a 
stupendous difficulty if you wanted to parade your divinity through 
the electric glare of the great world as Mrs. Gerard Hillersdon — 
but if you want her for your goddess, your Egeria, hidden from the 
glare and the din, the existence of her father, drunk or sober, is of 
httle moment." 



igo Gerard ; or^ 



CHAPTER XVm. 

"lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe op teaks." 

Gerakd let three whole days go by without making any attempt 
to see Hester. Lovelace himself could hardly have been more 
diplomatic. He was completely miserable in the interval, counted 
the hours, and wondered perpetually whether the woman he loved 
was hungering for his presence as he hungered for hers. He spent 
the greater part of the time with Jermyn ; driving to Richmond one 
day to dine at the Star and Garter and sit late into the night, 
watching the mists rising in the valley, and the stars shining on 
the river; driving to Maidenhead on another day and loitering 
long upon the shadowy river, and sitting in a riverside garden 
smoking and talking half through the sultry summer night; and 
in this long tete-a-tete he sounded the uttermost depths of Justin 
Jermjm's godlessness and cheerful egotism. 

"The one thing that I am certain of in this Rhadamanthine 
universe," said this philosophical worldling, " is that I, Justin 
Jermyn, exist; and this being my one certainty, I hold that my 
one duty — the duty I owe to myself — is to be happy, and to make 
the best of the brief span which I am to enjoy on this earth. 
Reason tells me that to be happy and to live long I must abjure 
passion — reason tells me that serenity of mind means health and 
prolonged life ; and to this end I have learnt to treat life lightly, 
as a farce rather than a tragedy, and to give my affection neither 
to man nor woman — to be slave neither of friendship nor of love. 
A selfish philosophy, I grant you ; but self is my only certainty." 

" An admirable philosophy, if it were as easy to practise as to 
preach. And have you never loved ? " 

"Never, in the fashion that you call love. I have never been 
unhappy for a woman's sake." 

"And the domestic affections — father, mother, family?" 

"I never knew them. I was flung as a waif upon the world, 
reared upon charity, the architect of my own forttine — such as it 
is. I am like Hester Summerson in ' Bleak House.' My mother 
was my disgrace, and I was hers. I am at least so far a follower 
of St. Paul, that I owe no man anything. I sink the second part 
of the precept." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 191 

Gerard meditated upon Jermyn's character as he drove home, 
towards daybreak, the man himself slumbering by his side. It was 
perhaps only natural that a man cut off from all family ties, cheated 
of mother's love and father's friendship, a stranger to every bond 
of blood relationship, should have grown up to manhood heartless 
and passionless, should have trained himself to the settled calm of 
a philosophical egotism, attaining in the morning of life that im- 
mimity from all the pains and penalties of the affections which the 
average egotist only achieves in old age. 

Gerard looked at the sleeper wonderingly, almost with envy. 
The fair pale face was unmarked by a line that told of anxious 
thought or deep feeling. The sleeper's lips were parted in a faint 
smile, as if even in sleeping he felt the sensuous pleasure of life 
on a fair summer morning — the perfume of flowers from a hundred 
gardens, the soft breath of the wind creeping up from the west, 
warm with the glow of last night's sunset. The joy of Uving! 
Yes, this man who loved no one enjoyed life in all its fulness ; and 
he, Gerard, with two millions to spend, and, it might be, less than 
two years to spend them in, was miserable — miserable because of 
the cowardly incertitude which made him unable to take the 
straight and honourable road to happiness while the sinuous and 
evil way lay open to him. 

He went to Chelsea at dusk on the third evening after Hester's 
tearful farewell. She came quickly to the door in answer to his 
knock, and he was startled at the change which three days had made 
in her. The first words she spoke told him that it was not love of 
him which had so altered her, but poignant anxiety about her father. 

"He has never been home since that night," she said. "I have 
been in search of him at every place that I cotild think of aa 
possible for him to have gone to, but I can hear nothing of him 
since Tuesday night — the night you were here. He was at the 
Swan Tavern that night, sitting in the coffee-room drinking brandy 
and water till the house closed. He was talking a good deal, 
and he was very excited in his manner when he left, but the 
people would not tell me if he had drunk much. They pretended 
not to know how much brandy had been served to him. I have 
been to the police office, and the river has been dragged along by 
the Embankment, where he and I used always to walk. They were 
very good to me at the police station, and they have promised to do 
all they can to find him, Hving or dead. But, oh " — Auth a bm-st of 



192 Gerard ; or, 

uncontrollable weeping — " I fear they will never find him alive. 
He could have had only a little money, and he must have spent it 
all on brandy, and then when he was mad with drink — ah, you 
don't know how drink maddens him — he may have walked into the 
river, or thrown himself in, miserable and despairing. He was at 
the Swan at eleven o'clock, only a few minutes' walk from the 
river, and I can find no one who saw him after that hour. I thmk 
he must have meant to come home — I don't think he would wilfully 

desert me — but some accident, some fit of madness " 

She could not speak for sobbing. Gerard led her into the 
parlour, where the old man's empty chair reminded him of that last 
interview, and of the snare he had set for a weak sinner's feet. 
Looked at in the hght of Hester's grief to-night, and the awful 
possibilities she suggested, the thing which he had done seemed 
little short of murder. 

"I will go to Scotland Yard, Hester," he said, eager to comfort 
her. " I will set the cleverest detectives in London at work, and 
it shall go hard if they don't find your father. My dearest, don't 
give way to these morbid imaginings. Be sure he is safe some- 
where — only hiding because he feels he has disgraced himself in 
your eyes. He has been afraid to come home, knowing how 
grieved you would be at his backsliding. Be comforted, dear 
love." His arms were round her, and he drew the pale pinched 
face to his own, and again their lips met, but this time Hester's 
kiss was the kiss of despair. She clung to her lover in her grief 
and fear. She forgot the peril of such consolations. 

What comfort could he give her about her father, except the 
assurance that all that money could do to find him should be done, 
and that once being found every possible means should be taken 
to ensure his welfare in the future. He told her that there were 
doctoi's who had made such cases their chief study, homes where 
her father could be surrounded with every luxm-y, and yet secured 
from the possibility of indulgence in his fatal vice. He showed her 
how happy and free from care her future might be if she would 
only trust her own fate and her father's to him. And then came 
words of love, burning words that have, been spoken again and 
again upon this earth with good or evil import — words that may be 
true when the lips speak them, yet false within the year in which 
they are spoken — words that promise an eternity of love, and may 
be uttered in all good faith, and yet prove lighter than the thistle- 
down wafted across summer pastures. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 193 

Three days ago she had been strong to resist the tempter, strong 
in womanly pride and maiden modesty. To-night she was broken 
down by grief, worn and fevered by sleepless nights, almost reck- 
less in her aching misery. To-night she listened to those vows of 
love. What had she on this earth but his love, if the father for 
whom she had toiled was indeed lying at the bottom of the river, 
her purpose in life gone for ever? Who could be more lonely and 
friendless than she was to-night? 

So she Hstened to his pleading, heard him whUe he urged her to 
consider how poor a thing that legal tie was which he entreated 
her to forego ; how often, how lightly cancelled by the disgraceful 
revelations of the divorce court. 

" Time was when marriage meant till death," he said, " but that 
is an exploded fashion. Marriage nowadays means the convenience 
of a settlement which will enable a man either to found a family or 
to cheat his creditors. Marriage means till husband and wife are 
tired of each other, and till the lady has grown callous enough to 
face the divorce court." 

And then he reminded her how the most romantic passions, the 
loves that have become history are not those alliances upon which 
parish priest and family lawyer have smiled. He reminded her of 
Abelard and Heloise, of Henri's passion for Gabrielle, and Nelson'g 
deathless love for Emma Hamilton. He urged that society itself 
had pardoned these fair offenders, for love's sweet sake. 

Her intellect was too clear to be deceived by such shallow 
reasoning. 

On the very brink of the abyss she recoiled. Loving him with 
all her heart, knowing that life without him meant a colomiess and 
hopeless existence — a hand-to-hand struggle with adversity, know- 
ing by too bitter experience that to be well born and poor means 
lifelong humiliation, she yet had the strength to resist his pleading. 

" Your wife or nothing," she said. " I never meant to hear your 
voice again after that night. I prayed to God that we might never 
meet again. And now for my father's sake I humiliate myself so 
far as to ask your help. If you will bring him back to me I will thank 
and bless you — and will try to forget your degrading propositions." 

" Degrading, Hester I " he cried reproachfully, trying to take her 
hand again, the hand that had lain softly in his a few moments ago. 

" Yes, degrading ! What could you say to any wretched lost 
woman in London worse than you have said to me ? You talk to 
me of love— and you offer me shame for my portion." 





194 Gerard ; or, 

" Hester, that is a woman's narrow way of looking at life. As if 
the priest and the ring made all the difference." 

" If you cared for me you would make me your wife." 

" I am not free to marry, Hester. I am bound by a tie which I 
cannot break yet awhile. The tie may be loosened in years to 
come, and then you shall be my wife. So soon as I am free we 
will have the priest and the ring, the whole ecclesiastical formula — 
although that formula will not make me one whit more your slave 
than I am this night." 

" I don't want a slave," she said resolutely. " I want a husband 
whom I can love and honour. And now I am going back to the 
police station to ask if there is any news." 

"Let me go with you." 

" I had rather you went to Scotland Yard, as you promised." 

" I will go to Scotland Yard. I will do anything to prove my 
love and loyalty." 

" Loyalty ! Oh, Mr. Hillersdon, do not play with words. I am 
an ignorant, inexperienced girl, but I know what truth and loyalty 
mean — and that you have violated both to me." 

They left the house together, in opposite directions. Gerard 
walked towards Oakley Street, hailed the first cab he met, which 
took him to Scotland Yard, where he saw the officials, and gave a 
careful description of the missing Nicholas Davenport, age, personal 
characteristics, manners, and habits. When asked if the missing 
man had any money about him at the time of his disappearance, he 
professed ignorance, but added that it was possible that he had 
money. It was late in the evening when he left Scotland Yard, 
and he went into the Park, and roamed about for some time in a 
purposeless manner, his brain fevered, his nerves horribly shaken. 
This hon'or of Nicholas Davenport's fate absorbed his naind at one 
moment, and in the next he was thinking of Hester and his rejected 
love, troubled, irresolute, full of pity for the woman he loved, full 
of tenderest compassion for scruples which seemed to him futile 
and foolish in the world as he knew it, where iUicit liaisons were 
open secrets, and where no man or woman refused praise and 
honoiu- to sin in high places. He pitied the simplicity which clung 
to virtue for its own sake, a strange spectacle in that great guilty city, 
a penniless girl sacrificing love and gladness for the sake of honour. 

He went from the Park to the SmaU Hours, a club where he 
knew he was likely to find Jermyn, who rarely went to bed before 
the summer dav.n. "It is bad enough to be obliged to go to bed 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 195 

by candle-light from October to March," said Jermyn, who declared 
that any man who took more than three or four hours' sleep in the 
twenty-four shamefully wasted his existence. 

" We are men, not dormice," he said, "and we are sent into thia 
world to live — not to sleep." 

Gerard found Jermyn the ruhng spirit of a choice little supper- 
party, where the manners of the ladies — although they were not 
strictly "in society," and would not have been received at the 
Heptachord, or at the Sensorium — were irreproachable, so irre- 
proachable, indeed, that the party would have been dull but for 
Justin Jermyn. His ringing laugh and easy vivacity raised the 
spirits of his convives, and made the champagne more exhilarating 
than the champagne of these latter days is wont to be. 

" A capital wine, ain't it ? " he asked gaily. " It's a new brand, 
' Fin de Siecle,' the only wine I care for." 

Gerard drank deep of the new wine, would have drunk it had it 
been vitriol, in the hope of drowning Nicholas Davenport's ghost ; 
and when the httle banquet was over, and youth and folly were 
waltzing to the strains of Strauss in an adjoining room, he linked 
his arm through Jermyn's and led him out of the club, and into the 
BtOlness of St. James's Park. 

Here he told his mentor all that had happened, denounced him- 
self as a traitor, and perhaps a murderer. " It was your scheme," 
he said; "you suggested the snare, and you have made me the 
wretch I am." 

Jermyn's frank laughter had a sound of mockery as he greeted 
this accusation. 

" That is always the way," he said, " a man asks for advice, and 
turns upon his counsellor. You wanted to get that officious old 
father out of the way. I suggested a manner of doing ^it. And 
now you call me Mephisto and yourself murderer." 

And then with airiest banter he laughed away Gerard's lingering 
scruples, scoffed at man's honour and at woman's virtue, and 
Gerard, who had long ago abandoned all old creeds for a dreary 
agnosticism, heard and assented to that mocking sermon, whose 
text was self, and whose argument was self-indulgence. 

" I shudder when I think of the myriads of fanatics who have 
sacrificed happiness here for the sake of an imaginary paradise — 
wretches who have starved body and soul upon earth to feast and 
rejoice in the New Jerusalem," said Jermyn, finally, as they parted 
at Buckingham Gate in the faint flush of dawn. 



196 Gerard ; or, 

Less than half an hour afterwards Gerard was in the Rosamond 
Eoad, and at the httle iron gate that opened into the scrap of 
garden, where a cluster of sunflowers rose superior to the dust, pale 
in the steel-blue light of dawn. 

The lamp was stUl burning in the parlour, and he saw Hester's 
shadow upon the bhnd. She was sitting with her elbows on the 
table, her face buiied in her hands, and he knew that she must be 
weeping or praying. She had let her lamp burn on, imconscious of 
the growing daylight. The window was open at the top, but the 
lower half was shut. He tapped on the pane, and the shadow of a 
woman's form rose up suddenlj', and broadened over the blind. 

" Hester, Hester," he caUed. He raised the sash, as she drew 
up the blind, and they stood face to face, both pale, breathless, and 
agitated. 

" You have heard of him, you have seen him," she cried excitedly. 
" Is it good news ? " 

" Yes, Hester, yes," he answered, and sprang into the room. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

ALL ALONG THE KIVEE. 

Between Reading and Oxford there is a riverside village, of which 
the fashionable world 'has yet taken scant notice. It lies beyond 
the scene of the great river carnivals, and the houseboat is even yet 
a strange apparition beside those willowy shores. Thei'e is an old 
church with its square tower and picturesque graveyard placed at a 
bend of the river, where the stream broadens into a shallow bay. 
The church ; a straggling row of old-world cottages, with over- 
hanging thatch and low cob walls, half hidden under roses, honey- 
suckle, and Virginia creeper, cottages whose gardens are gorgeous 
with the vivid colouring of old-fashioned flowers ; a general shop, 
which is also the post-office ; and a rustic butcher's, with verandah 
and garden, constitute the village. The Rectory nestles close beside 
the church, and the Rectory garden brims over into the churchyard, 
long trails of banksia roses straggling across the low stone wall 
which divides the garden of the living from the garden of the dead. 
The churchyard is one of the prettiest in England, for the old Rector 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 197 

has cared for it and loved it during his five and thirty years' incum- 
bency, and nowhere are the roses lovelier or the veronicas finer 
than in that quiet resting-place by the river. 

The land round about belongs to a man of old family, who is rich 
enough to keep liis estate unspoiled by the speculating builder, and 
who would as soon think of cutting off his right hand as of cutting 
up the meadows he scampered over on his sheltie, sixty years ago, 
into eligible buOding plots, or of breaking through the tangled 
hedges of hawthorn and honej'suckle to make new roads for the 
erection of semi-detached villas. In a word Lowcombe is still the 
country pure and simple, undefiled by the subm-ban early English 
or the shoddy Queen Anne schools of architecture. 

On the brink of the Thames, and about twenty minutes' walk 
from Lowcombe Church, there is an old-fashioned cottage, humble 
as to size and elevation, but set in so exquisite a garden that the 
owner of a palace might envy its possessor a retreat so fair in its 
rustic seclusion. 

Here, while the second crop of roses were in their fullest beauty, 
a young couple whose antecedents and belongings were unknown to 
the inhabitants of Lowcombe set up their modest menage of a man 
and two maids, a gardener, a dinghy, and a skiff. 

The village folks troubled themselves very little about these 
young people, who paid then- bills weekly ; but the few gentihties 
in the parish of Lowcombe were much exercised in mind about a 
couple who brought no letters of introduction, and who might, or 
might not, be an acquisition to the neighbourhood. The fact that 
Mr. Hanley was alleged to have bought the house he hved in and 
forty acres of meadow land attached thereto, gave him a certain 
Btatus in the parish, and made the question as to whether Mr. and 
Mrs. Hanley should or should not be called upon a far more serious 
problem than it would have been in the case of an annual tenant, 
or even a leaseholder. 

"Nobody seems to have heard of these Hanleys," said Miss 
Malcolm, a Scottish spinster, who prided herself upon race and 
respectability, to !Mrs. Donovan, an Irish widow, who was swollen 
with the importance that goes with income rather than with blue 
blood. " If the man was of good family surely some of us must 
have heard of him before now. Lady Isabel, who goes about 
immensely in the London season, thinks it very curious that she 
ehould never have met this Mr. Hanley in society." 

'* Old Banks was asking an extortionate price for the Eosary and 



198 Gerard ; or, 

the laud about it," said Mrs. Donovan, '•' so the 'man must have 
money." 

" Made in trade, I dare say," speculated Ikliss Malcolm, whereat 
the widow, whose husband had made his fortune as a manufacturer 
and exporter of Irish brogues, reddened angrily. It was painful to 
remember in the aristocratic dolcefar niente of her declining years 
that the name of Donovan was stamped upon millions of boots in 
the old world and the new, and that the famous name was stUl 
being stamped by the present proprietor. 

Finally, after a good deal of argument, it was decided at a tea- 
party which included the elite of the parish, with the exception of 
the Eector, that until ^Ir. Muschatt, of Muschatt's Court, had called 
upon the new people at the Rosary no one else should call. What- 
ever was good in the eyes of Muschatt, whose pedigree could be 
traced without a break from the reign of Edward the Confessor, 
must be good for the rest of the parish. 

And while the village Agora debated their social fate, what 
of this yovmg couple ? Were they languishing for the coming of 
afternoon caUers, pining for the sight of strange faces and unfamiliar 
names upon a cluster of visiting cards? Were they nervously 
awaiting the village verdict as to whether they were or were not to 
be visited ? Not they ! Perhaps they hardly knew that there was 
any world outside that garden by the river, and that undulating 
Btretch of pasture where the fine old timber gave to meadow land 
almost the dignity of a park. Here they could wander for hours 
meeting no one, hearing no voices but their own, isolated by the 
intensity of an aflFection that took no heed of yesterday or to-morrow. 

" I never knew what happiness meant till I loved you, Hester," 
Baid the young man whom Lowcombe talked of as " This Mr. 
Hanley." 

" And I am happy because you are happy," Hester answered 
Boftly. " And you will not talk any more about having only a year 
or two to live, will you, Gerard ? That was aU nonsense — only said 
to frighten me — wasn't it ? " 

He could not tell her that it was sober, serious truth, and that he 
had in no wise darkened the doctor's dark verdict Those imploring 
eyes urged him to utter words of hope and comfort. 

" I believe doctors are often mistaken in a case, because they 
underrate the influence of the mind upon the body," he said. " I 
was BO miserable when I went to Dr. South that I can hardly 
wonder he thought me marked for death." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 199 

" And you are happy, now, Gerard — really, really happy ; not 
for a day only ? " she asked pleadmgly. 

"Not for a day, but for ever, so long as I have you, sweet 
wife." 

He called her by that sacred name often in their talk, not being 
sensitive enough to divine that at every repetition of the name to 
which she had no right, her heart thrilled with a strange sudden 
pain. She troubled him with no lamentings over the sacrifice he 
had exacted from her. She had never reproached him with the 
treachery that had made her his. Generous, devoted, and self-for- 
getful, she gave him her heart as she would have given him her life, 
and her tears and her remorse were scrupulously hidden from him. 
To make him happy was now the sole desire and purpose of her 
life. Of her father's fate she was still uncertain, but she was not 
without hope that he hved. A detective had traced a man, whose 
description taUied with that of Nicholas Davenport, to Liverpool, 
where he had embarked on a steamer bound for Melbomne within 
two days of Davenport's disappearance from Chelsea. The passage 
had been taken in the name of Danvers, and the passenger had 
described himself as a clergyman of the Church of England. Hester 
was the more inclined to believe that the man so described might 
be her father as he had often talked of going back to Austi-alia and 
trying his luck again in that wider world. It was not because he 
had failed once that he must needs fail agam, he had told her. 

" But how could he have got the money for his passage ? " asked 
Hester. " He had exhausted all his old friends. It seems impos- 
sible that he could have had money enough to pay for the voyage 
to Melbourne." 

And then on his knees at her feet in the silence of the night, 
with tears and kisses and protestations of remorse, Gerard HiUersdon 
confessed his sin. 

'* It was base beyond all common baseness," he said. " You can 
never think worse of me for that act than I think of myself. But 
your father stood between us. I would have committed murder to 
win you ! " 

"It might have been murder," she said dejectedly. 
" I have told you my crime, and you hate me for it. I was a 
fool to tell you." 

" Hate you ! No, Gerard, no ; I can never hate you. I should 
go on loving you if you were the greatest sinner upon this earth. 
Do you think I should be here if I could help loving you? " 



2CO Gerard; or, 

His head sank forward upon her knees, and he sobbed out his 
passion of remorse and self-abasement, and received absolution. 
He tried to persuade her that all would be well, that her father's 
health might be benefited by a long sea voyage, and that he might 
not fall back into the old evil ways. He might not ! That was 
the utmost that could be said ; a faint hope at best. Yet this faint 
hope comforted her ; and in that summer dream of happiness, in 
the long days on the river, the long tete-a-tete with a companion 
•who was never weary of pouring out his thoughts, his feelings, 
his unbeliefs to that never-wearying listener, all sense of trouble 
vanished out of her mind. She only knew that she was beloved, 
and that to be thus beloved was to be happy. Her bm-den of tears 
would have to be borne, perhaps, some day far away in the dim 
future, when he should weary of her and she should see his love 
waning. There must be a penalty for such a sin as hers ; but the 
time of penance was still afar off, and she might die before the fatal 
hour of disillusion. She thrust aside all thought of dark d/ivs to 
come, and devoted herself to the duty of the present — the duty of 
making her lover happy. All his sins against her were forgiven ; 
and she was his without one thought of self. 

They had begun their new life almost as casually as the babes in 
the wood, and after wandering about for a few days in the lovely 
Thames Valley, stopping at quiet out-of-the-way villages, they had 
come to Lowcorabe, the least sophisticated of all the spots they 
had seen. Here they found the Rosary, a thatched cottage set in 
a delicious garden, with lawn and shrubberies sloping to the river. 
Successive tenants had added to the original building, and there 
were two or three fairly good rooms under the steep gabled roof 
one a drawing-room open to the rafters, and with three windows 
opening into a thatched verandah. The Rosary had long been for 
Bale, not because people had not admired it, but because the owner 
an Oxford tradesman, had asked an extravagant price for his 
property. 

Gerard gave him his price without question, having seen that 
Hester was enamoured of the riverside garden, and in three daya 
the cottage was furnished, paint cleaned, walls repapered, and 
everything swept and garnished, and Hester installed as mistress 
of the house, with a man and two maids, engaged at Reading. 

The furniture was of the simplest, such furniture as a young 
clergyman might have chosen for his first vicarage. Hester had 
entreated that there might be nothing costly in her surroundings, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 201 

no splendour or luxury wWdi slioiild remind lier of her lover's 
wealth, 

" I want to forget that you are a rich man," she said. " If you 
made the house splendid I should feel as if you had bought me." 

Seeing her painfully earnest upon this point, Gerard obeyed her 
to the letter. Except for the elegance of art muslins and Indian 
draperies, and for the profusion of choice flowers in rooms and 
landings and staircase, except for the valuable books scattered on 
the tables and piled in the window-seats, the cottage might have 
been the home of modest competence rather than of boundless 
wealth. 

Hester's touch lent an additional grace even to things that were 

in themselves beautifiil. She had the home genius which is one of 

the choicest of feminine gifts— the genius which pervades every 

circiunstance of home life, from the adornment of a drawing-room 

to the arrangement of a dinner-table. Before he had hved at 

Lowcombe for a week Gerard had come to see Hester's touch 

upon everything. He had never before seen flowers so boldly and 

picturesquely grouped ; nor in all the country houses he had visited 

and admired had he ever seen anything so pretty as the cottage 

vestibule, the deep embrasure of the long latticed window filled 

with roses, and in each angle of the room a tall glass vase of lilies 

reaching up towards the low timbered ceiUng. No hand but 

Hester's was allowed to touch the books which he had brought to 

this retreat — a costly selection from his library at Hillersdon House. 

He had seen to the packmg of the two large cases that conveyed 

these books, and he had so arranged their conveyance that none of 

his servants should know where they went after the railway van 

had carried them away. No one was to know of this retreat by 

the river — not even Justin Jermyn, his confidant and alter ego. He 

wanted this new hfe of his — this union of two souls that were aa 

Qne — to remain for ever a thing apart from his everyday existence ; 

he wanted this home to be a secret haven, where he might creep to 

die when his hour should come ; and it seemed to him that even 

the inevitable end would lose its worst terrors here, in Hester's 

arms, vfith her sweet voice to soothe the laborious passage to the 

unknown land. 

And if death would be less awful here than elsewhere, how 
sweet was life in this rural hermitage ! How blissful the long 
summer days upon the river, with this gentle, pensive girl, who 
seemed so utterly in sympathy with him ; who, after one week of 



202 Gerard ; or, 

union thought as he thought, believed as he believed; had sur- 
rendered life, mind, heart, and being to the man she loved, merging 
her intellectual identity into his, until nothing was left of the creed 
learnt in childhood and faithfully followed through girlhood, except 
a tender memory of something which had been dear and sacred, 
and which for her had ceased to be. 

For her Christ was no longer the Saviour and Redeemer she had 
worshipped. He was only the "Man of Nazareth" — a beautiful 
and admirable character, standing out from the tumultuous back- 
ground of the world's history, radiant with the calm, clear light of 
perfect goodness, the gifted originator of life's simplest and purest 
ethics, a teacher whose wise counsels had been darkened and 
warped by long centuries of superstition, and who was only now 
emerging from the spectre-haunted midnight of ignorance into the 
clear light of reason. 

Gerard belonged to the school of sentimental agnostics. He was 
willing to speak well of Christ and of His prophets, was full of 
admiration for the grand personality of Elijah, and thought the 
Book of Job the loftiest expression of human imaginings. He loved 
to dwell upon the picturesque in the Bible, and Hester learnt from 
his conversation how familiar an infidel may be with Holy Writ. 
When she told him how great a consolation the Christian's un- 
questioning belief had been to her in the darkest days of her 
poverty, he smiled at her sweet simplicity, and said how he too had 
been a beUever till he began to think. And so, with many tears, as 
if she had been parting with some cherished human friend, she let 
the Divine Image of the Man-God go, and accepted the idea of the 
God-like Man, a being to be named in the same breath with 
Socrates and Plato, with Shakespeare and Milton — only a httle 
higher than the highest modem intellect. Only a week, and a 
creed was destroyed, but in that week what a flood of talk about all 
things in heaven and on earth, what theories, and dreams, and 
philosophies sounded and explored ! To this woman, whom he 
loved more fondly than he had ever dreamed of loving, Gerard gave 
the intellectual experience of his manhood, from the hour he began 
to ponder upon the problem of man's existence to his latest opinion 
upon the last book he had read. Had she not loved him, her own 
simple faith, the outcome of feeling unsustained by thought, might 
have been strong enough to stand fast against his arguments ; but 
love took the part of the assailant, and the result was a foregone 
conclusion. Had he been a religious enthusiast, a fervid Papist, 



T^he World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 203 

believing in saintly relics and miracle-working statues, she would 
have believed as he taught her to believe. Her faith, fortified by 
her love, would have removed mountains. With her, to love meant 
total self-abnegation. Even the sharp stings of remorse were 
deadened by the happiness of knowing that her lover was happy ; 
and as she gradually grew to accept his idea of a imiverse governed 
' only by the laws of human reason, she came to think that whether 
Church and State had assisted at her marriage was indeed, as 
Gerard urged, of infinitesimal significance. And this intellectual 
emancipation achieved, there remained but one cloud on her 
horizon. Her only fear or anxiety was for her father's welfare — 
and even of him she tried to think as little as possible, knowing that 
she could do nothing for him except await the result of his mis- 
conduct. She had given him all the fairest years of her girlhood, 
and he had accepted her sacrifice, and at the first opportunity had 
chosen his darling vice in preference to his daughter. She had a 
new master now, a master at whose feet she laid all the treasures of 
her life, for whom no sacrifice could ever be too much. 

Time is measured by feeling. There are days in every life which 
mean epochs. One eventful week may stand for more in the sura 
of existence than half a dozen placid monotonous years. It seemed 
to Hester, while September was yet young, that her union with 
Gerard Hillersdon had lasted for half a lifetime. She could scarcely 
think of herself except as his wife. All the past years seemed dark 
and shadowy, like a dioramic picture that melts gradually into 
something strange and new. The name of wife no longer wounded 
her ear. The new philosophy taught her that she was no less a 
wife because she had no legal claim to the title. The new philosophy 
taught her that she had a right to do what she liked with her hfe, 
so long as she did not wrong her neighbour. One clause in that 
Church Catechism her childish lips had repeated so often, was 
blotted out for ever. Duty to God was done with, since there was 
no God. All moral obligations were comprised in duty to man — a 
reasonable regard for the happiness of the largest number. 

That renunciation of the creed of hope was not accomplished 
without moments of mental agony, even in the midst of that dream 
of love which filled the world with one adored presence. There 
were moments when the young heart would have gone up to the 
old Heaven in prayer — prayer for the endurance of this deep fehcity, 
prayer for the creature she loved too well. But the new Heaven 
was a blank — an infinite system of worlds and distances, measureless, 



204 Gei'ard ; or, 

illimitable — but there was no one there — ^no one — no mind, no heart, 
no love, no pity ; only systems and movement, perpetual movement, 
•which included light, heat, evolution, everything — a mighty and 
complex universe of which her lover and herself were but uncon- 
sidered atoms, of whom no higher Existence had ever taken heed, 
since they two, poor sport of Life and Time, were the crowning 
glory of evolution. The progress of the species might achieve 
something loftier in infinite ages to come ; but so far they two, 
Gerard and herself, were the highest outcome of immeasurable ages. 
For conduct, for happiness, for protection from the dangers that 
surroimded them, they had to look to themselves and to none 
other. 

Had she been less absorbed by her affection for the creature 
Hester would have more acutely suffered by this darkening over of 
the world beyond, which had once been her consolation and her 
hope ; but in Gerard's companionship there was no need of a better 
world. 

Those last weeks of summer were exceptionally beautiful. It 
seemed as if summer were lingering in the land even when September 
was drawing to its close. Trees and shrubberies, the flower-beda 
that made great masses of vivid colour on the lawn — scarlet, orange, 
golden yellow, deepest azure — were untouched by frost, unbeaten 
by rain. The broad, old-fashioned border which gave an old-world 
air to one end of the garden was glorious with taU gaudy flowers — 
tritoma, Japanese anemones, cactus dahlias, late-blooming lilies, 
and roses red and white. And beyond the garden and encircling 
slirubhery, in the hedgerows and meadows, in the copses and on 
the patches of hillocky common, heather, gorse, wild-flowers, there 
was everj'where the same rich luxuriance, the wealth of colour and 
perfume, that joyous exuberance of Nature which five or six weeks 
of old-fashioned summer weather can fling over the face of an 
English landscape. 

It may be that this abundant beauty, this delicious interlude of 
sunshine and blue sky helped Hester Davenport to forget the 
shadows in her life — to forget all that was painful and dubious in 
her position, and to exist only in the happiness of the present. 
Morning after morning the same sunlit river rippled round the boat, 
which seemed to dance and twinkle in the vivid light, as if it were 
a living thing, longing to be free and afloat. Morning after morning 
Gerard and Hester sculled their skiS along the windings of romantic 
backwaters, halting under a roof of greenery to idle away the sultry 



The World, the Fleshy and the Devil. 205 

hours in talk or reading. Under those slanting willows, whose 
green tresses dipped and trailed in the bright blue water, they 
would sit for a long summer day, Hester's dexterous fingers 
employed upon some piece of artistic embroidery, while Gerard 
read aloud to her. 

In this way they went through aU the devious windings and 
eloquent incomprehensibUities of the "Revolt of Islam" — ia this 
way Hester heard for the first time of the "Ring and the Book" — 
and wept and suflered with the gentle heroine, and thrilled and 
trembled in those scenes of dramatic grandeur and fiery passion, 
unsurpassed ia the hterature of power. A new world opened before 
her as Gerard familiarised her with his favourite authors — the 
lawlessness of Shelley, the rude vehemence of the Elizabethan 
dramatists, the florid eloquence of Jeremy Taylor, the capricious 
brilHancy of De Quincey, the subtle wit of Lawrence Sterne. These 
and many other writers, long familiar to the man who had lived by 
hterature, were all new to Hester. 

" What an ignoramus I have been ! " she exclaimed ; " I thought 
when I had read Shakespeare and MUton, and Byron and Tennyson 
I knew all the best treasures of Enghsh hterature — but now the 
treasures seem inexhaustible." 

There were other literatures too to be tasted. They read 
Eugenie Grandet together, and Hester wept over the heroine's 
disappointed hfe. They read new books and old books, having 
nothing to do in those six weeks of perpetual summer but read and 
talk and ramble, and worship one another, each unto the other the 
beginning and end of life. 

" If it could last ! " thought Gerard ; but Hester, less experienced, 
and, therefore, more confiding in Fate, dreamt that this Elysium 
would last tiU the grim spectre, who tramples down all bhsses, 
broke into their enchanted palace. 

She watched his face with fondest anxiety, and it was her dehght 
to mark how the dark lines and the pinched, wan look seemed to 
be vanishing day by day. "Who knows whether it was really so, 
or whether in the face she worshipped she saw only what she so 
ardently longed to see, signs of improving health and youth renewed. 
His eyes had a new brightness, she thought, and if he looked pale 
in the dayhght, she had always a bright colour in the evening as 
they sat side by side in the luminous chcle of the reading-lamp. 
And again and again he assured her that happiness had given him 
a new lease of life, that all the old aches and wearinesses had been 



2o6 Gerard; or, 

subjugated, and that Dr. South would tell a very different story 
next time he overhauled his patient. 

" He told me to seek happiness, and I have sought and found it," 
he said, kissing the slender hands that had toiled so patiently in the 
past, and which now so often lay idly in his. 

Gerard thought of the Chart of Life behind the cmiain at 
HUlersdon House, and fancied that when he should again trace 
a hne upon that mystical chart the outline would be bold and free, 
the stroke of the pen broad and steady. 

In those sis weeks of happiness he had severed himself almost 
entirely from his past life, and from that wrestling, striving world 
in which a bachelor imder thirty, with two millions of money, is an 
important factor. The men of his set had left off wondering why 
he started neither racing stud nor mammoth yacht, why neither the 
blue ribbon of the turf nor the glories of the Royal Yacht Squadron 
had any attraction for him. The mascuhne portion of society had 
set him down finally as a poor creature, without manly aspirations 
or English pluck — an aesthete, a dilettante, a man good for nothing 
but to keep a free luncheon table, and to lose a hundred now and 
again at ^cart^ or piquet. Women were far more indulgent. They 
talked of Gerard Hillersdon as " quite too interesting — so delightfully 
unlike any one else." 

He had arranged that all his letters should be re-addressed to the 
Post Office at Reading, and twice a week he despatched the indis- 
pensable replies from Reading to the house-steward, to be posted in 
London. Thus even his own servants knew of no nearer address 
than Reading, which was seven miles from the Rosary. He answered 
only such letters as absolutely required replies, and to these his 
answers were brief and colourless. He had so concentrated all his 
thoughts upon Hester, and the placid, sunlit life which they were 
leading, that it was only by a painful effort he could bring his mind 
to bear upon the commonplace of friendship or the dry-as-dust of 
business. Certain letters there were which had to be written some- 
how, the writing of which was absolute mental agony. These were 
his weekly letters to the woman whom he was pledged to marry 
when the year of her widowhood should have ended. And of that 
year a quarter had already gone by — a quarter of a year which had 
drifted him so far away from his old love that he looked back at 
the dim past wonderingly, and asked himself, " Did I ever love 
her? Was not the whole 'story a concession to society ethics, 
which demand that every young man should have his goddess, cfe 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 207 

'^r le monde, every married woman her youthful adorer, every 
smart menage its open secret, not to know which is not to belong 
to the smart world ? " 

Once a week at least he must write to the absent lady ; for to 
neglect her might result in a catastrophe. Her nature, he told him- 
self, was of the catastrophic order, a woman most dangerous to 
offend. He had never forgotten that moment in Hertford Street 
when, at the thought of his inconstancy, she had risen up in her 
fury, white to the Hps, save where the hectic of anger burned upon 
her cheek in one red spot, like a flame. He might doubt — did 
doubt — if he had ever loved her ; but he could not doubt that she 
loved him, with that love of woman which is " a fearful and a lovely 
thing." 

No ; he must maintain the falsehood of his position till he could 
find some way of issue from this net which he had made for himself 
in the morning of life. Now, with love at its zenith, he could con- 
ceive no phase of ch'cumstances that could make him false to Hester. 
Her life must be intertwined with his to the end ; albeit he might 
never parade his passion before the cold, cruel eyes of the world — 
eyes that stare down the poetry of life, and if a man married Undine 
would look at her with cold calculation through a tortoiseshell 
merveilleuse, and ask, " What are her people ? " 

Once a week the lying letter had to be written — lying, for he 
dared not write too coldly lest the distant divinity should mark the 
change of temperature and come flying homeward to find out the 
reason for this falling-ofi". So he secluded himself in his study one 
morning in every week, telling Hester that he had troublesome 
business letters which must be answered, and he composed his 
laborious epistle, spicing his forced tenderness with flippancy that 
was meant for wit, elaborating society scandals from the faintest 
hints in Truth or the World, rhapsodising on summer time and the 
poets, and filling his tale of pages somehow. 

His conscience smote him when Edith Champion praised these 
artificial compositions, this Abelard done to order. Her perception 
of epistolary style was not keen enough to detect the falsehood of 
the writer. 

" What lovely letters you have written me lately ! " she wrote, 
"only too far apart. I never knew you write so eloquently, for you 
must remember how you used to put me off with a couple of hurried 
pages. I am touched to the heart at the thought that absence 
seems only to bring us nearer together, more perfectly in sympathy 



2o8 Gerard ; or, 

with each other. I spent half the night — indeed the mountains 
were rosy in the sunlight when I closed my book — reading Shelley, 
after your last letter, in which you told me how you had been read- 
ing him lately. You are right. We are too apt to neglect him. 
Browning is so absorbing with his analytical power — his gift of 
turning men and women inside-out and dissecting every mental 
phase — ^he so thoroughly suits the temper of the age we live in, 
which seems to me an age of asking questions for which there are 
no answers. Write oftener, dearest. Your delightful letters have 
but one fault — there are too few of them." 

" So much for the divining rod of a woman's intelligence," thought 
Gerard, as he tore up the letter. 

And then from the highly-cultivated lady, who was well abreast 
of the stream of modern literature, and who was fuU of the current 
ideas of the age, he turned to the fond girl whose delight was to 
listen to the expression of his ideas, who accepted his gospel as if 
there were no other teacher on this earth, as if all the wisdom of 
Buddha, Confucius, and Socrates were concentrated in this young 
journalist of nine-and-twenty. He turned to Hester, and found in 
her companionship a sweet reposeful influence he had never felt in 
the old days when aU his leisure hours were spent with Edith 
Champion. 

In one of Edith's later letters there was a remonstrance. 

"You tell me nothing of yourself," she said. " Not even where 
you are or what you are doing. Your paper and the Knightsbridge 
post-mark indicate that you are at Hillersdon House, but what are 
you doing there, and what can be keeping you in London when all 
the civilised world is scattered over moor and mountain, or roving 
on the sea ? I sometimes fear you are Ul — perhaps too iU to travel. 
If I really thought that I should waive every other consideration and 
go to London to be near you. And yet your delightful letters could 
hardly be written by a sick man. There is no languor or depres- 
sion in them. A whim, I suppose, this lingering in town when 
everybody else has fled. You were always a creature of whims, 
and now you have milUons you are naturally all the more whimsical. 
Not to be like other people 1 was not that your ambition years ago 
when wo used to discuss your career ? " 

How could he read such letters as these without a pang of remorse ? 
He suffered many such pangs as he read ; but in the next half-hour 
he was floating idly with the current along the lovely river, and 
Hester's pale young loveliness was opposite him, the sweet face 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 209 

dimly seen in the deep shadow of a broad straw hat. Nothing that art 
can lend to beauty was needed to accentuate that delicate harmony of 
form and colouring. The simple cambric frock, the plain straw hat 
became her better than court robes and plumes and jewels could have 
done. She was just at the age when beauty needs the least adornment. 

"I don't wonder that you refused to be tempted by all my oifers 
of finery from man-mantua-makers," Gerard said to her one day. 
" You are lovelier in your cotton gowns than the handsomest woman 
in London in a hundred guinea confection by Eaudnitz or FeHx. 
But some day when we are in Paris I shall insist on dressing you 
up in their fine feathers, just to see how my gentle Hester will look 
as the Queen of Sheba. A woman of fashion, drest in the latest 
modish eccentricity, always recalls her Sheban majesty to my mind," 

" Some day when we are in Paris ! " 

He often spoke as if their lives were to be spent together, as if 
wherever he went she would go with him. Sometimes in the midst 
of her happiness Hester lost herself in a labpinth of mingled hope 
and fear. He had told her of an insurmountable obstacle to their 
legal union, and yet he spoke as if th&fe were to be no end to this 
blessed life in which they lived only for each other. Ah, that was 
the shadow on the dial, that was the one stupendous fear. To this 
marriage of true minds, marriage unsanctified by church or law, 
there would come the end — the falHng off of love, sudden or gradual ; 
the bitter hopeless day on which she should awaken from her di'eam, 
and pass out of Paradise into the bleak barren world. She tried to 
Bteep heart and mind in tlie bliss of the present, to shut her eyes 
against all possibilities of woe. Whatever the future might bring 
it would be something to remember she had once been completely 
happy. Even a single day of such perfect bliss would shme like a 
star in the night of years to come. She would not spoil the ineffable 
present by forebodings about the future. And thus it was that Gerard 
Hillersdon had to listen to no repLnings, to kiss away no remorseful 
tears. She who had given him her heart and life had given with all 
a woman's self-forgetfuhiess. "XMiat matter how fate might use her 
by-and-by ? The triumph of her life was iu her lover's happiness. 

It would be difficult to imagine a life more secluded, more shut in 
and isolated from the outer world, or a spot more remote from the 
drawbacks of civilisation ; and yet this young couple, wandering in 
the lanes and over the commons, or gliding along sunlit waters in 
their picturesque skiS, with its striped red and white sail, and ita 
gaily-coloured Oriental cushions, were the cynosure of several pairs 

P 



210 Gerard; or, 

of eyes, whicii took heed of the smallest details in their behaviour 
or their surroundings, and the subject of several very active tongues, 
a subject which gave new zest to many a five-o'clock tea within 
driving distance of Lowcombe. 

Placid and inoffensive as their lives were, the young people who 
were known as Mr, and Mrs. Hanley had given umbrage to the whole 
neighbourhood by various omissions and commissions within the six 
weeks of their residence at the Rosary. 

In the first place they had taken no trouble to conciliate the resi- 
dents among whom they had descended suddenly, or, in the words 
of the jovial and facetious curate of an adjoining parish, "as if they 
had been dropped out of a balloon." They had brought no letters 
of introduction. They had not explained themselves. They had 
planted themselves in the very midst of a select and immaculate little 
community without producing any evidence of their respectabihty. 

" And yet no doubt they expect people to call upon them," said 
Lady Isabel Glendower, the help-meet of an ancient Indian General 
who went to garden-parties in a bath chair, and whose wife and 
daughters had taken upon themselves a tone of authority in all 
social matters, based upon the lady's rank as an earl's daughter. 
"Mr. Muschatt actually was going to call. I met him last week 
riding that wretched old cob towards the Rosary, and was just in 
time to stop him. ' Surely you are not going to compromise us by 
calling on these people,' I said, ' until we know more about them.'" 

" The foolish old thing saw the young woman on the river the 
other day, and was so taken by her pretty face that he wanted to 
know more of her," said Clara Glendower, who was young and 
skittish. " He raved to me about her transparent complexion and 
simple cotton frock. Old men are so sUly." 

" I think, Lady Isabel, the less we say about these young people, 
the better," said Miss Malcolm, with awful significance. " They aro 
evidently not the kind of persons you would like your daughters to 
know. A young man, able to spend money as freely as this young 
man does, cannot be without a circle of friends ; and yet I can 
answer for it that not a creature except the tradesmen's youths has 
been to the Rosary for the last six weeks." 

" But if they are honeymooning they may wish to be alone," 
suggested Cara. 

" Honeymooning ! nonsense, child," retorted Lady Isabel, who 
prided herself on being outspoken. " I dare say that young woman, 
in spite of her simple cotton frock, has had as many honeymoons as 
there are signs in the Zodiac. The most notorious women in London 
are the women who wear cotton frocks and don't paint their faces." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 2 1 1 

" Mr, and Mrs. Hanley have been six weeks at Lowcombe, and 
have never been to church. That stamps them," said Mrs. 
Donovan, at whose luxurious tea-table the conversation took place. 

The Rector heard the fag end of the debate. 

"I must see if I can persuade them to come to church," he said, 
in his mild, kindly voice. " It is rather too much of a jump at 
conclusions to suppose that because they are not church-goers they 
are disreputable. Half the young men of the present generation are 
Agnostics and Darwinians, and a good many young women imitate 
the young men's agnosticism just as eagerly as they imitate theu' 
collars and ties. I am old enough to know that one must make 
prodigious allowances for the erratic intellect of youth. Whether 
Muschatt calls on the Hanleys or not, I shall call and find out what 
manner of people they are. I am sorry I have put it off so long." 

The Rector had a way of coming down with the heavy foot of 
benevolence upon the serpent's head of village malignity, now and 
again, on which account he was generally spoken of as an eccentric, 
and a man who would have been better placed anywhere than in the 
Church of England ; an elderly widower, hving with a soft-hearted 
maiden sister, childless, irresponsible, altogether lax in his ideas of 
morahty, a man who took pity upon fallen village girls, and gave 
himself infinite trouble to save them from further evil, and to help 
them to hve down their disgrace ; a man who had laboured valiantly 
in the work of female emigration, and to whom almost every mail 
from the new world brought ill-spelt letters of gratitude and loving 
remembrance. Such a man the elite of Lowcombe considered should 
have cast in his lot at the East End of London. In a small settlement 
of eminently correct people he was out of place. He was too good 
for the neighbourhood ; and the neighbourhood was too good for him. 



CHAPTER XX. 

"some dim derision of mysterious laughter." 

While Mr. Gilstone, the Rector of Lowcombe, whose worst vice was 
procrastination, v/as meditating a ceremonious call upon his new 
parishioners, accident anticipated his design, and brought him face to 
face with the young woman whose morals and cotton frocks had met 
with such drastic treatment at Mrs. Donovan's Thursday tea-drinking. 
Sauntering in the Rectory garden on Saturday afternoon Mr. 
Gilstone's keen glance was attracted by a figure seated near an 
old, old tombstone in a comer of the churchyard where his garden 
wall, in all its wealth of foliage, made an angle with the willowy 



212 Gerard; or, 

bank of the river. The sunhght on the white camhiic frock gave 
that seated form and bent brown head an air of something supernal, 
as it were Dante's divine lady in the light of Paradise. The Rector 
stepped upon a little knoll that was level with the top of the 
wall in order to look down upon the lady sitting by the tomb. 

Yes, it was Mrs. Hanley — that Mrs. Hanley of whose antecedents 
and present way of hfe Lowcombe spoke shudderingly. He could 
just distinguish the exquisite profile under the shady straw hat, he 
could see the delicate ear, transparent in the sunlight, the perfect 
curve of the throat rising from a loosely tied lace handkerchief, the 
graceful lines of the slender girUsh figure in the plain white gown. 
No art had been used to enhance that perfect beauty, and none wa3 
needed. The purity of the white gown, the simplicity of the Tuscan 
hat, were in harmony with that placid and ideal loveliness. 

" Poor child, I hope with all my heart that all is well with her," mused 
the Rector, as he stepped down from the gi'assy knoll, and strolled to 
the gate opening into the churchyard, and then with quiet step made 
his way to the tomb against which Hester was sitting, on a gi'assy 
ridge, over which periwinkle and St. John's wort had been allowed 
to run riot, half covering the crumbKng grey stones and clothing the 
cumbrous early Georgian sepulchre with fresh young beauty. This 
was a corner of God's Acre in which the Rector permitted a careless 
profusion of foliage, a certain artistic neglect that was part of his plan. 

The lady was reading, and on looking down at her book, Mr. 
GUstone saw that she was reading Shelley's " Alastor." 

She looked up at the sound of his footfall among the leaves, and 
then calmly resumed her reading. He drew nearer, hat in had. 

" Allow me to introduce myself to you, Mrs. Hanley," he said, in 
his pleasant voice. " I have been meaning to call upon you and 
Mr. Hanley for a long time, but indolence and procrastination are 
the vices of old men. Seeing you just now from my garden I 
thought I might snatch the opportunity of making friends with you 
here on my own ground." 

She had risen in confusion, blushmg violently, with a scalding 
rush of crimson over brow and cheeks, and her heart beating with 
almost suflbcating force. A criminal upon whose shoulder the law 
bad just laid its iron hand could hardly have suffered more. In that 
one moment Hester Davenport realised what it was to be a social 
pariah. It was as if she had awakened suddenly from a dream of 
bhss to find herself alone in the cold workaday world, face to face 
with a judge who had power to denounce and punish. 

" Pray, sit down," said the old man, " and let us have a little chat." 

He seated himself on the low boundary wall—lowest just at thia 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 213 



o 

part of the churchyard, where the fairy epleen-worfc grew in every 
chink of the crumbling stones. 

" You have been my neighbours for some time," said the Eector, 
" and yet I have seen so little of you. I am sorry you don't come 
to my church — but perhaps you are people who object to our simple 
village services, and you go further afield." 

"We do not go to any church," Hester faltered. "It would be 
only hypocrisy if we were to join in services which have very little 
meaning for us. We honour and love the Gospel for all that is 
true and beautiful in it, but we cannot beheve as you and your 
congregation believe, and so it is better to stop away from church." 

" You are very yoimg to have joined the great army of unbe- 
lievers," said the Rector, with no change in the gentleness of his tone, 
or the friendly light of his eyes. He had heard too many young 
people prattle of their agnosticism to be particularly shocked or 
startled at the words of unbelief from these girlish lips. " Were 
you brought up m a household of infidels — were your early teachers 
unbelievers ? " 

" Oh no. I was once a Christian," she answered, with a stifled 
sob. " I once believed without questioning — believed in the divinity 
of Christ, believed that He could heal the sick and raise the dead, 
believed that He was near me at all hours of my life, nearest when 
I was in deepest sorrow." 

" And when did you cease to believe in His presence — when did 
you lose the assurance of a Saviour who could pity your sorrows and 
understand your temptations ? " 

"Doubt came gradually, with thought, and thinking over tha 
thoughts of others far wiser than myself." 

" Mr. Hanley, your husband, is an agnostic, I take it? " 

The drooping head bent a little lower ; the hand on the open book 
turned a leaf or two with a restless movement. 

" He does not believe in miracles," she answered reluctantly. 

" Nor in a life to come — nor in an Almighty God to whom wa 
are all accountable for our actions. I know the creed of the youth- 
ful Freethinker — universal liberty ; liberty to follow the bent of his 
own desires and his own passions wherever they may lead him ; and 
for the rest the Gospel of Humanity, which means tall talk about 
the grandeur and wisdom of man in the abstract, combined with a 
comfortable indifference to the wants and sorrows of man in tho 
concrete, man at Bethnal Green or Haggerstone. Oh, I know what 
young men are," exclaimed the Rector, with indignant scorn ; " how 
shallow, how arrogant, how ready to absorb the floating opinions of 
their day, and to take ready-made ideas for the results of original 



214 Gerard; or, 

thought. Frankly, now, Mrs. Hanley, is it only since your marriage 
that you have been an infidel? " 

Hester faltered a reluctant " Yes." 

And then, after a brief pause, she began to plead for the man she 
idolised. 

" Indeed, he is not shallow or ignorant," she said. " He has 
thought long and deeply upon the religions of the world, has brooded 
over those instincts which lead the hopes and desires of all of us to 
a life beyond — an unseen universe. He is not a strong man — he 
may never live to be old— indeed I sometimes fear he will not, and 
we have both talked often and long about that other world which 
Ave once believed in. We should be so much happier if we could 
believe — if we could hope that when death parts us it will not be for 
ever. But how can we hope for the impossible — how can we shut 
our eyes to the revelations of science — the fixed, immutable laws 
which hem us in on every side, and show us of what we are made 
and what must be our end ? " 

" Dust we are, and to dust we must return," said the Rector, 
" but do you think there is nothing outside the dust — nothing that 
will survive and ripen to more perfect hfe when this poor clay is 
under the sod. Do you think that the innate belief of all human 
kind carries no moral weight against the naiTow laws of existence 
imder the conditions and restrictions in which we know it ; con- 
ditions and restrictions which may be changed in a moment by the 
fiat of Omnipotence, as the earth is changed by an earthquake or the 
ocean by a storm ? Who, looking at the placid, smiling sea could 
conceive the fury and the force of a tempest if he had never seen 
one ? You would find it as difficult to believe in that level water 
lifted mountains high, or in the racing surf, as to believe in the 
6ur\nval of intellect and identity, the passage from a known life here 
to an unkiioAvn life hereafter. The philosophers of these latter days 
call the unknown the unknowable, or the unthinkable, and suppose 
they have settled and made an end of everything which they cannot 
understand. But I am not going to preach sermons out of church, 
Mrs. Hanley. I am much more interested in you than in your 
opinions. At your age opinions change, and change again— but the 
personality remains pretty much the same. Even if you and your 
husband ilon't come to church you are my parishioners, and I want 
to know more of you. I hope you both like Lowcombe ? " 

" Oh, it is far more than Uking. We both love the place." 

" And you mean to live among us ? You will not grow tired 
of the river, even when winter sheds a gentle greyness over all 
that is now so brilliant? There are people who say they are 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 215 

fond of the country — in summer. Take my -word for it, the souls 
of those people are never far from Oxford Street. To love the 
country one must know and admire every phase and every subtle 
change of every season. Awakening from a long sleep one should 
be able to say at the first glance across the woods and hUls — ' this 
is mid-October or this is March.' One should know the season 
almost to a week. You are not one of those who only care for a 
midsummer landscape, I hope ? " 

" No, indeed ! I love the country always — and I hate London." 

The shudder with which the last words were spoken gavo 
earnestness to the avowal. 

" You have not been happy in London," said the Rector, his 
quick ear catching a deeper meaning than the words expressed. 

" I have been very unhappy there." 

"And here you are quite happy. As a girl you had troubles; 
yoiu" surroundings were not all you could wish ; but your wedded 
life is perfectly happy, is it not ? " 

" Utterly happy." 

"Come to church, then, my dear Mrs. Hartley. Come and 
kneel in our village church — the old, old church, where so many 
have knelt, and given thanks in joy, and been comforted in affliction. 
Come and give thanks to God for your happiness. It is not for 
you, who scarcely know what mathematics mean, to , refuse to 
beheve in a God because His existence cannot be mathematically 
demonstrated. Your own heart must tell you that you have need 
of God, that you have need of a conscience outside your own 
conscience, a wisdom above your own wisdom. Come and kneel 
among us, and give God thanks that your lines have been set in 
pleasant places — and, since I am told you are rich, come and work 
among our poor. It is good for the yoimg and prosperous to interest 
themselves in the old and needy. If you go among our cottagers 
at first as a duty, and perhaps thinking it an unpleasant duty, you 
will soon come to love the work for its own sake. There is sweet- 
ness in your face that teUs me your heart wiU open to the unhappy." 

"I love visiting the poor," Hester answered, brightening a little 
at this suggestion. "I have been poor, and know what poverty 
means. I should like to go about among your cottagers — if — if my 
husband" — she faltered at the word, in spite of all those broader 
ideas which Gerard had taught her — " if my husband will let me." 

" He could hardly refuse you the happiness of making others a 
little happier — you who possess all the material elements of happiness 
in superabundance. I feel assured Mr. Hanley will consent to your 
devoting a few of your leisure hours to my cottagers. I will only 



2 1 6 Gerard ; or, 

Bend you to wholesome cottages, and really deserving people. But, 
as they are all good churchmen, I want you to come to church first. 
They are sure to talk to you about the church services, and you will 
be embarrassed, and they will be shocked if you have to say that 
you never go to church. I can't tell you what that means to simple 
people, for whom church is the ante-chamber of heaven. To them 
it is anathema maranatha, the abomination of desolation." 

" I cannot go to church," said Hester, with averted face. 

"Not even to thank God for your happy life, for your marriage 
with the man you love ? " 

" No, no, no ! " 

" Then my dear young lady, you lead me to think that this 
eeemingly happy union is one for which you dare not thank God ; 
or in plain speech that you are not Mr. Hanley's wife." 

Her sobs were her only answer. All those grand theories of 
universal liberty, of virtue that knew not law, wliich she had 
taken to her heart of late, all she had learned at second-hand from 
Gerard, and at fii'st-hand from Shelley, vanished out of her mind, 
and she sat by the Eector's side crushed by the weight of her 
sin, as deeply convinced of her own shame and worthlessness as 
she who knelt amidst the accusing Pharisees and waited for the 
punishment of the old law, unexpectant of the new law of pardon. 

" I am sorry for you, my dear young lady, deeply and truly sorry. 
You were not born for a life of degradation." 

"There is no degradation," protested Hester, through her tears; 
** my love for him and his for me is too complete and true ever to 
mean degradation. He has read much and thought much, and has 
got beyond old codes and worn-out institutions. I am as much and 
as truly his wife as if we had been married in your church yonder." 

" But you are not his lawful wife, and other wives, down to the 
humblest peasant woman in this village, will think badly of you, and 
all Clu-istian women will think you a sinner — a sinner to be pitied 
and loved perhaps, but a sinner all the same. Why should that be ? 
There is no other tie, I hope ? Mr. Hanley is not a married man ? " 

" Oh no, no ! " 

" Thank God ! Then he must marry you. It will be my duty to 
put the matter before him in the right light." 

"Ob, pray do not interfere," exclaimed Hester. "He would 
think I had come to you to complain — he would love me less, 
perhaps — would think me designing, selfish, caring only for myself. 
There is nothing in life I care for but his happiness, and he ia 
perfectly happy now. He knows that I am devoted to him, that I 
would trive my life for him " 



The Woi'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 2 1 7 

" You have given your honour — that to such a vfoman as you is 
eometunes more than Ufe." 

" Honour or hfe, I could not count the cost of either for his sake." 

" And he must be a villain if he can refuse to give you back to 
the position from -which you have fallen — for his sake." 

" It will come — it will come in time. I feel that he will do what 
is right — in his own good time." 

" You cannot afford to wait for that. You are far too good to 
occupy your present position for another day or hour, unless your 
betrayer will consent to make wrong right. Pray trust me, my dear 
young lady. Though I am a rustic I have seen something of human 
nature, and I will act with discretion. I will not be precipitate." 

"I would much rather you did not interfere. You don't know 
him. He is wayward and fanciful — you may turn him against 
me — and we are so happy now — utterly happy — and it may be 
only for a short time. He has been told that he may die young. 
When he has gone all my life may be one long repentance — ono 
long atonement for having made his last years happy.", 

"My poor child, women have a natural bent for self-sacrifice, 
which too often leads them into sin. Come, come, my dear, don't cry ; 
and remember whatever may happen I mean to be your friend." 

Hester sighed. The circle of perfect love — that narrow, 
isolated spot in the universe m which she had been hving for the 
last seven weeks was broken in upon suddenly from the outside 
world, and everything in this golden dream of hers took new 
lights and new colours when looked at by other eyes. In that 
sweet solitude of two, they had been Hke Hero and Leander, like 
Kosalind and Orlando, like any two creatures who exist only 
for each other, and for whom all the rest of creation is no more 
than a picturesque background to that dual hfe. Love in its first 
brief intensity scarcely believes in that outer world. 

"Yes, my dear, however this story of yours may end — and I 
hope and believe it will not end badly — you may rely upon my 
friendship," said the Rector, " and if you want a woman's help or 
counsel my old maiden sister will not withhold it from you. 
When the world was thirty years younger I had a yoimg wife 
whom I adored, and who had something of your complexion 
and contour, and a baby daughter. Before my little girl was threa 
years old God took her ; and her mother, who had been in weak 
health from the time of the child's birth, died within a year of our 
loss. Those two angel faces have followed me down the vale 
of years. I never see a child of my daughter's age without a 
little thrill of tenderness or pity. I never see an interesting girl 



2i8 Gerard ; or, 

of your age without thinking that my Httle girl might have grown 
up Uke her. So you see, Mrs. Hanley, I have a reason for being 
interested in you over and above my duty as a parish priest." 

"You are all that is kind," faltered Hester, "and I wish I were 
worthier " 

"It is not you who are unworthy. No, I will say no more, lest 
I should seem harsh to one you love. May I walk part of the way 
home with you ? " 

"I shall be very pleased to have your company, but I have a 
boat close by." 

" Then let me take you to your boat ? " 

He went with her to a httle reedy inlet, where she had moored 
her dinghy, and he stood on the bank and watched her as she 
Bculled the light boat away towards the setting sun, with the easy 
air of one used to the work. 

" Poor child," sighed the Kector. " How strange that one is so apt 
to feel more interested in a sinner than in a saint. It is the mystery of 
human life that takes one's fancy, perhaps ; the sinner's appeal to pity^ 
as against the saint's confidence in hor own holiness. I suppose that 
is why Mary Magdalene is the most popular character in the Gospel." 

Hester rowed slowly up the sunlit river, creeping close in 
shore by the stunted willows which spread their low shadows across 
the water. She crept into the shadow as the wounded deer creeps 
away to die, stricken to the heart by her conversation with Mr. 
Gilstone. It was the first time she had been brought face to face 
with stern reality since she had allowed her lover to lead her by 
the hand into the fool's paradise of unsanctioned love. He had 
taught her to believe that the sanction meant very little, and that 
the loyalty and unselfishness of a mutual attachment were an all- 
sufficient proof of its purity; but these modern views of hia did 
not stand by her for a quarter of an hour under the earnest inter- 
rogation of a village parson. All her old-fashioned ideas, her 
reverence for God's Word, her shrinking from man's disdain, rushed 
back into her mind, and Philosophy and Free Thinking were 
scattered to the winds. She stood confessed a woman dishonoured 
by the sacrifice love had exacted from her. She looked back to 
those quiet evenings by the river, when she and her father had 
walked up and down in the starlight, with Gerard Hillersdon beside 
them, sympathetic, respectful almost to reverence. Ah, what bliss 
it had been to listen or to talk with him in that tranquil hour when the 
burden of daily care had been laid down ! What unalloyed happiness, 
without thought or fear of the future — without regi'ct for the past ! 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 219 

How altered now were her thoughts, when to look back upon the 
past was horror, when to think of the future filled her whole being 
with aching fear ! 

This had been one of her rare days of eoHtude, and it was ending 
badly. Gerard had left for London after their leisurely breakfast, 
and was not to return tiU the eight-o'clock dinner. Business or 
whim had urged him to spend a day in the metropolis — to lunch at 
one of his clubs, and to hear the gossip of town and country from 
men who were " passing through " — to breathe that more piquant 
atmosphere of the world in which everybody knows everybody else's 
latest secret. The freshness and the quiet of the country would be 
all the more delicious, he told himself, after that brief plunge into 
the dust and movement of the town. 

Hester had not pouted or looked sorrowful at his departure, but 
the day had been sorely long ; and now this chance meeting with the 
Eector had filled her with sadness and apprehension — dread lest he 
should break the spell that held their tranquil lives, by a vain inter- 
position upon her behalf. And then came the agonising thought 
that her lover, in spite of a devotion that seemed all-absorbing, did 
not love her well enough to make her his wife. Sophistry might make 
their union seem beautiful without the bond of marriage ; but still 
that question remained unanswered — Why were they not married ? 

At this quiet evening hour, perhaps one of the saddest in Hester's 
life, there came suddenly upon her the sound of laughter — a man's 
frank laughter, joyous as the song of birds, joyous almost to 
ecstasy; and round the bend of the river a steam launch, gaily 
decked with crimson draperies and Oriental cushions, came quickly 
towards her, with the figures of its occupants defined against the 
brightness of the western sky. Foremost of the group stood the 
tall and Hssom form of a young man with yellowish auburn hair and 
sharply cut features, and gi'ouped about him were women in light 
summer gowns and airy hats, and other young men in white flannels. 
A ripple of laughter and joyous voices went past her as they passed, 
and then above it all rose that same mirthful laugh she had heard 
before the boat came in sight. The laughter of the man with 
auburn hair and pale, sharp-cut face was wafted up the river, in the 
wake of the boat, on the soft evening air. That joyous group of 
youthful strangers touched her with a keener sense of her own lone- 
liness ; her father mysteriously vanished out of her life ; the friend- 
ship of all old friends for ever forfeited by her conduct ; nothing and 
no one left to her save the man for whom she had surrendered all. 
If he should grow weary of her, if he should change, what had she 
on earth ? Nothing ! Her glances turned involuntarily to one deep 



2 20 Gerard ; or, 

shadowy pool she knew of under an inward curve of the bank. 
Nothing but death ! And in the new dispensation of Darwin, 
Spencer, and CUflFord, death by suicide was no more terrible than 
death by inevitable decay. There was no afterwards. There was 
no Great Father outside this httle world to whom the self-destroyer 
had to render up his account. 

At a quarter to eight came the glad sound of wheels — sound for 
which Hester had been listening for the last half-hom", and two 
minutes later Gerard was ia the lamp-lit hall, amidst the cool fresh- 
ness of newly cut roses, and Hester was in his arms, faltering her 
fond welcome between tears and laughter. 

" Why, my darUng, you are almost hysterical. This won't do, 
Hettie." 

" The day has been so long. But you are home at last," she 
sighed, drying her tears, the &st he had seen since one stormy 
burst of weeping which he must needs remember all his life — the 
passionate tears of a woman betrayed by the man she loved too well 
to punish, even by her resentment. 

" Home at last— home by the very train and at the very hour I 
named — and uncommonly glad to be home, sweet wife ! " 

How ghbly he pronounced the name — and yet, and yet, she 
blushed at the sound, as she had not done since its novelty had 
worn off, and she accepted the gospel of free thought. All that the 
good old parson had said to her was in her mind that night, though 
she smiled and brightened and grew happy in the companionsliip of 
the man she adored. 

He had come home laden with gifts for her — books, trinkets — not 
valuable gems, since she steadfastly refused any such gifts — but the 
light and airy inventions of modern art — new settings of moonstones 
or starstones, fairy-hke silver hair-pins, ornaments that would be 
worthless when their fashion was past, dainty toys and trifles to 
scatter about the tables, eccentricities in silver and enamel, Dresden 
china bonbon boxes, Japanese idols. 

" Throw them into the river if you don't like them," he said, as 
they sat at the cosy round table after dinner, with the lampliglit 
shining upon the glittering toys which Gerard produced one after 
another from a capacious leather bag, taking childlike pleasure in 
Hester's wondering admiration. " I am growing richer and richer — 
appallingly rich. My stocks and shares were chosen with such extra- 
ordinary foresight by that marvellous old man with the umbrella 
that the value of them has gone on increasing ever since he bought 
them. My Piosarios, my South-'Westerns, my Waterworks, British 



The World, the Fleshy and the Devil. 221 

and Foreign, my London Guarantee Shares — everytliiug I own has 
an upward tendency. I cannot spend a quarter of my income, 
xmless I do something ■uald and foolish. Think of something, 
Hester ! Imagine some mad, delightful escapade which would cost 
us twenty thousand pounds. We must launch out somehow ! " 

" I can imagine nothing so wild or so foolish as my love for you," 
said Hester, growing suddenly thoughtful, " for when you cease to 
care for me I must die. There ^YiIl be nothing left." 

" Cease to care for you ! While there is consciousness here " — 
touching his forehead — " that will never be ! " 

"And you really love me — with all your heart ? " 

" With all my heart, and mind, and strength. There's the Church 
Catechism for you. I am surprised I can remember so much of it." 

CHAPTER XXI. 

"as GEXTLE AiTD A3 JOCUiTD AS A JEST." 

Mr. Gilstoxe thought long and seriously of his interview with the 
j'oung lady who was known to Lowcombe as Mrs. Hanley. In his 
many years' widowhood, during which his maiden sister Tabitha 
had cared for his creature comforts, kept his servants in order, 
maintained a spotless propriety throughout his roomy old house, 
and assisted him with counsel and manual labour in his cherished 
garden and churchyard, her mind had become the other half of his 
mind, and he had no secrets from her, not even the secrets of other 
people ; so within a few hours of that conversation in God's Acre 
Tabitha Gilstone knew as much about Mrs. Hanley as her brother 
had been able to discover. 

Tabitha was not surprised to hear that there was something 
wrong. That had been decided by the consentient voices of Low- 
combe some weeks ago. Tabitha sorrowed for this poor young 
woman, as she always sorrowed for human error, with its inevitable 
sequence of human suffering, most especially when the sinner was 
young, and perhaps -uith just one extra touch of tenderness when 
the sinner was fair. She was sorro^vful, but she was not surprised. 
She was not one of those women who are quick to pronounce the 
female sinner a calculating minx, and the male sinner an artless 
victim. She felt very angry with the unknown owner of the Rosarj', 
and denounced him in immeasured terms. " The scoundrel," she 
cried, "not content with having brought disgrace upon a pretty, 
refined young creature, he must needs try to pervert her mind. 
First he makes her an outcast, and then he makes her an Atheist." 

" Don't be too hard, Bertha," remonstrated the Rector. " I dare 



22 2 Gerard ; or, 

say Mr. Hanley does not think he is doing any wrong in introducing 
this poor girl to the new learning. He thinks that he is leading her 
into the light of truth, not into the darkness of infidelity. You 
don't know how arrogant the new school of agnosticism is, how 
coniident in materialism as the royal road to the well-being of man- 
kind. For us who believe the unbelievers can find nothing but con- 
temptuous pity. I expect to find this young man a difficult subject. 
He has been spoilt by too much wealth and a little learning." 

"But you will do all you can, BasU," urged Miss Gilstone. 
*' You will persuade him to behave honourably ; or if he is wicked 
enough to refuse, I hope you will persuade that poor girl to leave him 
at once and for ever. Let her come to us if she is friendless ; I will 
find a home for her, either in this house or with some of my friends." 

'' Ah, Tabitha, how many girls have we ever succeeded in turn- 
ing from the way of evil while there were any flowers along the 
path ? It is only when they come to the thorns and briers that they 
can be persuaded to turn back. However, I mean to do my utter- 
most in this case." 

" And how much good you have done in such cases, Basil ; how 
many happy wives and mothers on the other side of the world havo 
to thank you that they are not outcasts in the streets of London ! " 

The keen impression made by her conversation with the Rector 
wore off as the dreamy days went by, and Hester once more was 
happy, and unashamed of her happiness, like Eve in Eden. The 
river was still at its loveliest, and Gerard and Hester spent the 
greater part of their days in a punt moored in some romantic back- 
water, or by some willowy eyot, he stretched in sybarite idleness 
among silken cushions, she reading aloud to him. She had a beau- 
tiful voice, and by long habit reading aloud had become very easy 
to her. Together in this way they dipped into W. EL Clifford and 
Herbert Spencer, Comte and Mill — he picking out chapters or 
essays for her to road, she accepting meekly whatever he put before 
her as the best. They read the poets also, in these golden after- 
noons, when there was just enough of coolness to make' the west 
wind crisp and pleasant, and no hint of a wind from the east. 

One morning she happened to mention the launch and the fair- 
haired, pale-faced young man whose joyous laughter had intensified 
her sadness. 

" I felt very despondent that afternoon," she said, " and his 
laughter saddened me." 

"Describe him to me again, Hester," said Gerard. "Stay." Ho 
sketched a profile lightly on the fly-leaf of a book, and handed tho 
book to her. " Was your laughing youth like that ? " 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 223 

" Yes," she cried wonderingly, " that is the very face. You know 
him, then ? " 

" Yes, I know him." 

He took a letter out of his pocket and re-read it frowningly, a letter 
that had come to him with his last batch from the Post Office at Reading. 

" "What has become of you ? Where are you hiding yourself? " 
wrote Justin Jermyn. " Surely you are tired of your Garden of 
Eden by this time. I heard of you in London the other day, so 
you have not carried your bliss to some untrodden valley where the 
novelty of your environment might prolong the freshness of your 
feelings. I can fancy no impassioned love lasting more than six 
weeks. The strain upon mind and imagination is too great. 

"May not one see you? Is your happiness too sacred for the 
vulgar eye of a friend ? I feel sure the dear young lady would like 
me, however she may object to the ruck of your acquamtance— and 
for the rest I am discretion itself— a very Hon's mouth for any secret 
you may drop into me ; as deep, as silent as that deep water near 
the Church of St. George the Greater, where the enemies of the 
Venetian Repubhc sleep so soundly. Seriously, I am pining to see 
you. Tell me when and where I am to go to you. Remember, 
there is a mystic sympathy which links your life to mine. You 
cannot escape me. Whether you will or no, in your joys and in 
your son-ows, I shall be near you. — Yours for life, " J. J." 

A hateful letter to Gerard in his present mood, rendered still mora 
hateful by the idea that Justin Jermyn might be his near neio-hbour. 

" Did you see the name of the launch ? " he asked. 

" No ; I only noticed the young man's face, and that the giris 
who were grouped about him were handsome and attractive. Is he 
a man whom you disHke ? " 

" Yes, when I am away from him. But when I am in his com- 
pany he always contrives to amuse and interest me, so that, in spite 
of myself, he seems my dearest friend." 

" I understand," said Hester. " He is very clever— but not a good 
man. And yet he had such a joyous laugh, and seemed so happy." 

"My dearest, do you think only the good people are happy? 
Some of the most joyous spirits in this world have gone along with 
hearts utterly and innately bad." 

They were taking tea on the lawn a day or two after this con- 
versation, theu- nistic table and restful wicker chairs grouped under 
a great weeping ash which had once been the chief feature of the 
cottage garden, when a boat shot rapidly towards the rustic laudmg 



2 24 Gerard ; or, 

stage, aud a lissom form appeared upon the steps, and came with 
airy footsteps, mercurial, vivid as light, across the close-shorn turf. 

"At last," cried Justin Jermyu. "I thought I could not be 
mistaken." 

"In whom, or in what?" asked Gerard, starting to his feet and 
contemplating the uninvited guest with a most forbidding frown. 

" In my old friend Mr. Hanley. I am staying with Matt Muller, 
the landscape painter, on his house-boat hard by Wargrave ; and I 
heard, casually, the description of a certain Mr. and Mrs. Hanley, 
who are in some wise a mystery to the neighbourhood — the lady 
exquisitely beautiful (with a bow and a smUe for Hester), the gentle- 
man inordinately rich, young, idle — all that my dear friend Gerard 
is, in short. So I made a shrewd guess as to Mr. Hanley's identity, 
and — me void. Pray present me to Mrs. Hanley." 

He stood before them smiling, self-assured, hght as Ariel himself, 
clad from top to toe in white, and with glints of sunlight in his 
blonde hair, and a deUcate transparency in his blonde complexion, 
untouched by wind or weather. He looked as if nothing were 
further from his thoughts than the suspicion that his company could 
be in any wise distasteful. 

Hester had risen in confusion, and stood leaning a httle against 
one of the low branches of the ash, blushing painfuUy. This was 
the fii'st visitor who had broken the spell of their sweet soHtude, 
and, as in her meeting with the Eector, she felt again the sharp 
bitter sense of being brought face to face with that outer world 
which could but think ill of her. 

" Mr. Jermyn — my wife," said Gerard, gravely, with emphasis 
upon the word wife. 

Justin Jermyn dropped into one of the low chairs, settled himself 
in a nest of dainty Moorish cushions, and waited to be refreshed 
with tea, which Hester prepared for him with hands which trembled 
a little, despite her eftbrts at self-control. In her conversation with 
the Eector the sense of the old man's fatherly pity had been more than 
she could bear without tears. In the presence of Justin Jermyn that 
which she felt was the sense of hidden mahgnity, the consciousness 
of being despised and made light of by the man who fawned upon her. 

She handed him his cup in silence, offered him the light dainties 
from the prettily decked table with the air of performing a social 
duty in which her inclination had no part, and when she had done 
tliis she opened a big Florentine umbrella, and walked slowly away, 
leaving the two men under the ash. 

"How shy she is," said Jermyn, looking after her, "and how 
lovely ! Even your rapturous tirades had hardly prepared me for 
80 much beauty. Yes, it is the true Kaifaelle face — the transparent 
purity of colouring — the delicate and harmonious featuits " 



The JVor/d, the Flesh, and the Devil. 225 

" Why did you hunt me down here ? " demanded Gerard, rudely 
breakmg in upon these encomiums. " Do you suppose that when 
a man has made a paradise for himself — remote and secret — he 
wants to be intruded upon by " 

"The serpent," interrupted Jermyn. "Perhaps not. Yet the 
eerpent always finds his way in through some gap in the hedge. 
And after all there must be limits to the pleasures of a dual solitude. 
Love may remain unchanged, but ideas become exhausted, and the 
tete-a-tete begins to bore. If the serpent hadn't upset everything 
at an early stage in their union, how heartily sick of Eden Adam 
and Eve must have become by the time Cain and Abel were weaned. 
Don't be angiy, Gerard. Granted that I am a pushing cad, and 
that I go where I hke to go rather than where I am wanted. I 
come to you with all the news of the town — of the world — fresh in 
my mind, the scandals, and follies, and the social entanglements of 
which your newspapers tell you nothing. You can surely put up 
with me for an hour or so." 

Gerard put up with him till midnight. He dined at the Rosary, 
and the little dinner of three had a gaiety which the tete-a-tcte 
dinners had somewhat lacked latel3\ Even Hester was amused by 
a style of conversation that was new to her, and the unpleasant efiect 
of ^Ir. JermjTi's personahty wore off, and was almost forgotten. He 
evidently liked and admired Gerard, and that was much in his favour. 

The moon was at the full, silvering wood and meadow, river and 
eyot, as they bade the visitor good night, and stood and watched 
him row down the stream towards Wargrave, a ghost-like figure in 
his white raiment, under that cold white light. 

" He amused you, Gerard," said Hester, as they walked slowly 
back to the house. " I was glad to hear you laugh so merrily. We 
have been too serious of late. Our books have saddened us." 

" Yes, they all tell the same story; that nature is everything and 
we are nothing. Jermyn is an amusing rascal, and as I told you 
yesterday, I like him well enough when I am with him." 

" You called me your wife when you introduced him to me,'' 
murmured Hester, hiding her face upon his shoulder. " You will 
never let him find out that I am — anything less than your wife — 
will you, Gerard ? I feel as if that man's scorn would wither me." 

" His scorn ! My dearest, he admires you beyond measure, and 
do you think he is the kind of man to be influenced in his opinion 
of any woman by a marriage certificate ? He knows that I adore 
you. He shall never know anything else about us but that we are 
devoted to each other. And if he is ever wanting in reverence for 
you, in the smallest degree, he shall never enter our house again." 



^26 Gerard ; or^ 

CHAPTER XXII. 

"COMPAEE DEAD HAPriNESS WITH LrVXNG "WOE." 

After that one evening's hospitable entertainment LIr. Jermyn 
considered himself free of the Rosary. He dropped in at any hour 
he liked, and always brought cheerfulness with him. He joined 
Hester and Gerard in their long, lazy mornings in the punt, discussed 
their books, old and new, seeming to know every book that had 
ever made its mark in the world, and to remember, as few readers 
remember. Gerard was certainly the gayer for his company, and 
listened with interest to an account of the visitors on the Pegotty^ 
where Matt Muller received a society that could only be described 
as mixed. HappOy the Pegotty was berthed at a distance of ten 
miles, and the painter's Bohemian guests rarely went over a mile 
beyond her moorings. 

All the dreamy seriousness that had tinctured Hester and Gerard's 
long duologue evaporated in the presence of Justin Jerrayn, as the 
mist wreaths melt from the riverside meadows under the broadening 
sunshine. The greatest problems in life and time were touched as 
lightly by Jermyn as the airiest nothings of tea-table gossip. It was 
impossible to be earnest in the society of a man for whom existence 
was a jest, and the Sybarite's luxury the supreme good below the stars. 

" If I ever contemplate another world, it appears to me as a 
planet in which there is perpetual summer ; a place where there are 
no bad cooks, and where the fowls of the air have no legs," he said, 
with his joyous laugh, when Hester pleaded for that last forlorn 
hope of man's progressive existence, somewhere, somehow. 

Mr. Gilstone called twice at the Rosary during these halcyon days at 
the beginning of October, only to find that Mr. and Mrs. Hanley were 
out on the river. Gerard tossed the Rector's cards aside with a con- 
temptuous laugh on the second time of finding them on the hall 
table. 

" What pushing rascals these parsons are ! " he exclaimed. " This 
fellow calls twice in ten days, instead of taking ofifence at my neglect. 
Wants money out of me for his schools, or his coal-club, no doubt. 
Well, the parson's life is not a happy life, as I know by home ex- 
perience, and I'll reward his pertinacity with a comfortable cheque." 

Hester turned red, and then pale, at the sight of the Rector's cards. 

" He may not want money," she faltered. 

" May not ! 'My dearest, he is a priest. The priest who doesn't 
go for your purse is a black swan that I don't expect to find along 
this river." 

" He may wish to see you." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 227 

" Then his wish shall remain ungratified. I am not going to let 
the world into our paradise by the thin end of the clerical wedge." 

" You need not fear the world," Hester answered, with the first 
touch of bitterness that Gerard had heard in any speech of hers. 
" People know that there is something wi'ong in our lives. They 
have all held themselves aloof." ! 

" The voice is the voice of my poetic Hester, but the words aro 
the words of the Philistine," said Gerard lightly, as he left her. 

She stood looking at the Kector's cards, lying far apart whero 
Gerard's careless hand had flung them. She felt that she had 
offended the man whom she loved better than all the world besides. 
Oh, fool, self-conscious fool, to care for what that shallow or self- 
seeking world might think or say of her. Whatever she had 
sacrificed of womanly pride and self-respect, was it not enough 
reward to have made him happy — him for whom life was to be so 
brief, who had need to crowd into a few summers the love and 
gladness which for other men may be spread over the length of 
prosaic years, making a little spot of colour and light here and there 
on the duU grey woof of domestic monotony. 

The Eector called a third time, and this time met the master of 
the house at the hall door. 

"Good morning, Mr. Gilstone. Pray step inside my den here,", 
said Gerard, throwing aside his hat. " I am ashamed that you 
should have troubled to pay me a third visit. I was on the point 
of sending you a cheque." 

" I have not asked you for any money, Mr. Hanley," answered 
the Eector, gravely, seating himself in the proffered chair, and look- 
ing round the room with the shrewd glance of eyes that have been 
observing things for sixty-six years. 

There was nothing in the cottage parlour, transformed into a 
study, to indicate dissipated habits ; none of the slovenliness of the 
Bohemian idler. Many books, flowers everywhere, and an all-per. 
vading neatness distinguished the apartment. 

" You have not asked me ? No, no," said Gerard, lightly, "but I 
knowthat in an agricultural parish theremustbeagood deal of poverty, 
and every well-to-do parishioner should pay his quota. Winter is 
approaching, though we may be beguiled into forgetting all about him 
in this delicious autumn. You are thinking of your coal and blanket 
club, I dare say. Allow me to write you a cheque." He opened a 
drawer, took out his cheque-book, and dipped his pen in the ink. 

" No, Mr. Hanley," said the Rector, decisively ; " I cannot take 
your money. I am here to talk to you of something much more 
precious than money." 



^28 Gerard ; or, 

" Of my soul, perhaps ? " questioned Gerard, his countenance 
hardening. "I may as well tell you at once, Mr. Gilstone, that I 
am an unbeliever in the Christian revelation, and, indeed, in 
transcendentalism of all kinds." 

" You are a Darwinian, I conclude ? " 

"No; I am nothing! I neither look before nor after. I want 
to make the most of life in the present, while it is mine. God knows, 
it is short enough for the longest Hved amongst us — and death comes 
no easier to me, the unit, because I know the universe is working 
steadily towards the same catastrophe." 

"You dread death? " asked the Rector.' 

" Who does not? Contemplate death in whatever form you will, 
he is the same hideous spectre. Sudden destruction, slow decay — 
who shall say which is the more terrible ? But come now, IVIr. Gil- 
stone, you are not here to talk metaphysics. I say again, let me wiite 
you a cheque for your schools, your cottage hospital, your somethmg." 

" And I say again, Mr. Hanley, that I cannot take your money." 

"Why not?" 

" I cannot take money for alms from a man who is Hving in sin." 

"Oh, that's your drift, is it, sh-?" cried Gerard, sprmgiug to hia 
feet. " You force yourself into my house in order to insult me ! " 

" No, Mr. Hanley. I am here in the hope of helping you to 
mend your life." 

" What right have you to suppose that my life needs mending ? " 

" Say that it is only the shrewdness of an old man who has hved 
long enough to know something of human nature. Two young 
people with ample means do not hve as you and Mrs. Hanley are 
living without some reason for their isolation, and in your case I 
take it the reason is that the lady is not your wedded wife. If that 
is so, let me, while your relations are still unknown to the world at 
large, marry you to this young lady, quietly, some morning, with no 
witness but my sexton and my dear old maiden sister, both of whom 
know how to keep a secret." 

" My dear Mr. Gilstone, you are vastly obliging ; but I am really 
a little amused at your naivete. Do you really forget — suppose I 
am not legally married to the lady I call ray wife — that there are 
plenty of registrars in England who would marry me to her as 
quietly as you can, and make no favour of the business ? " 
I " I do not ignore the existence of registrj^ offices where any groom 
in the county may be married to his master's daughter at a day or 
two's notice ; but I thuik Mrs. Hanley would prefer to stand by 
your side at the altar, and to be married to you according to the 
ordinances of the Church." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 229 

" I do not think Mrs. Hanley has any profound belief in those 
ordinances. She is satisfied with the knowledge that she possesses 
my whole heart, and that her love has made me happy." 

" And you accept her too willing sacrifice of virtue and good 
name, and reserve to yourself the privilege of deserting her when 
you are weary of her." 

" You have no right to talk to me in this strain." 

" Yes, Mr. Hanley, I have a right — the right of an old man and 
a parish priest, the right which comes from my deep pity for that 
innocent-looking girl whom you have made your victim. I have 
talked with her, and every word she uttered helped to assure me 
that she was not created to be happy in a life of sin. She is not 
the kind of Avoman to accept such a life readily — there must have 

been more than common art in the seducer who betrayed her " 

• " Hold your tongue, sir," cried Gerard passionately. " How dare 
you pry into the lives of a man and woman whom you see united and 
happy ; who ask nothing from you ; neither your friendship nor your 
countenance ; nothing except to be let alone. My wife — the wife of 
my heart and of my home — the wife I shall never forsake — is satisfied 
with her position, and neither you nor any one else has the right to 
interfere in her behalf. Your priesthood involves no privileges for 
one to whom all creeds are ahke mischief-making and superstitious." 

" I have been taught that the men who set aside old creeds have 
adopted humanitarianism as their religion," said the Eector ; " but 
there is not much humanity in your reckless sacrifice of this young 

lady — who, I say again, was born for better things than to be- 

anj'thing less honoured than your wife." 

"You have talked with her?" said Gerard, suddenly; "when 
and where ? " 

" I found her in the churchyard one afternoon, and we had a 
little quiet talk together." 

" I understand ; just enough to make her unhappy and absurdly 
sensitive upon a question which I thought she and I had settled for 
ever," retorted Gerard angrily. " Did she ask you to call upon 
me ? Are you her ambassador ? " 

" No. She is only too unselfish. You do not look hke a 
scoundrel, Mr. Hanley, and your conduct in this matter is a mystery 
to me. You are rich, independent. Why should you refuse to 
legalise a tie which you own has made you happy ? Is there any 
impediment? Are you married already ? " 

" I have no wife but Hester." 

"But j'ou have some reason ? " 

" Yes, T have ray reason — and as I do not believe in pr;psteraft 



230 Gerard ; or, 

or in father-confessors you must pardon me, Mr. Gilstone, if I refuse 
to explain that reason to you, a total stranger, whose sympathy, or 
whose curiosity, I have not invited." 

" Enough, Mr. Hanley. I am sorry for that ill-used young lady, 
about whose conscience and whose social status you are equally 
indifferent. If you should alter your determination and make up 
your mind to act as a man of honour, you may command me in any 
way or at any time ; but untU you do so I shall not again cross 
your threshold. " 

"So be it — but pray bear in mind, Eector, that you have crossed my 
threshold unasked, and that you cannot expect me to be appalled at 
your threaft of withholding an acquaintance which I never sought." 

He rang for the servant, and himself accompanied the Rector to 
the hall door, where they parted with ceremonious politeness. 

He was angry with this stranger's intrusion upon his life, angry 
with Hester for having betrayed their secret. She came in from 
the garden directly after Mr. GUstone's departure, fluttered and pale, 
having seen the Rector going out at the gate. 

For the first time Gerard received her with a frowning brow, and 
in gloomy silence. 

" The Rector has been with you," she said timidly, seating herself 
in her accustomed nook by the window, where she had her work- 
basket and Uttle book-table. 

Gerard was slow to answer. She had time to take her work out of 
the basket, and to put in a few tremulous stitches before he spoke. 

" Yes, the Rector has been here — an old acquaintance of yours, 
it seems." 

" Not very old, Gerard. I have only spoken to him once in my life." 

" Only once ; and in that once you contrived to make him 
acquainted with all your grievances." 

" Gerard, how cruelly you speak ! I told him nothing — nothing. 
Tie guessed that all was not well — that I was living a life which, in 
Ills sight, is a life of sin. Oh, Gerard, don't be hard upon me. I 
liave never worried you with my remorse for my own weakness, but 
when that good old man talked to me so kindly, so gently- " 

"You played the tearful Magdalen — allowed a bigoted old Pharisee 
to humiliate you by his pitying patronage — sent him to me to urge me 
to legalise our union — to legalise, forsooth ! As if law ever held love." 

" I did not send him to you. I begged him not to interfere." 

"You could at least have told me of your conversation with this 
man, and so prepared me for being sermonised." 

" I could not epeak of it, Gerard. There are things one cannQt 
speak of." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 231 

She bent very low over her work to hide her tears, feeling in- 
stinctively that tears would be hateful to him in his present humour. 
In all the days they had spent together she had kept tears and 
sadness to herself. For him she had been all sunshine. 

He took two or three impatient turns in the small room, where 
the cramped space only UTitated him. 

" Hester, are you tired of me, and our life here ? " he asked, 
stopping suddenly in front of the window by which she was seated. 

"Tired! Gerard, you know my life begins and ends with you. 
I have given up everything else — this world and the next. I have 
nothing to care about, nothing to hope for but you." 

" If I were free to marry you I should need no priestly bidding ; 
but I am not free. I am bound hard and fast by an old tie, which 
I cannot loosen, yet awhile at any rate. I may be able hereafter to 
free myself — without dishonour : or I may never be free." 

" Do not speak of it, Gerard. I have asked nothing of you. Mr. Gil- 
stone believed that he had a duty to do. He has done it. That is all." 

Her gentle patience touched him. He seated himself by her side, 
took the work out of the unsteady hands which were only spoiling 
it, and drew her to his heart. 

" You are only too good to me, Hester," he said ; " let us be 
happy, dearest, happy jn spite of the conventionalities, happy as 
Shelley and his Mary were, in the beginning of their union, before 
law had set its seal upon the bond of love. Some day Church and 
State may seal our marriage — but it will make the bond no stronger." 

He had not forgotten what the Rector had said of her. Yes, she was 
of the stuff of which wives are made. She was not the kind of woman 
to accept degradation easily. And then he told himself that there was 
no degi'adation in their union, that he was a fool to consider the world's 
opinion, or be influenced by the narrow views of a village parson. 

After that day there was no word spoken by either Gerard or 
Hester of the Rector's visit. He came no more to the Rosary, nor 
did any one else in the parish call upon the new-comers. Perhaps 
the involuntary look of distress in Mr. Gilstone's countenance, when 
Mr. and Mrs. Hanley were again discussed at a village tea-drinking, 
may have confirmed his parishioners in their suspicions of evil. The 
old speculations were repeated, the old assertion was reiterated, to 
the eft'ect that people who did not desire to be visited or to visit must 
be innately bad, and the Rector held his peace. He started a new 
subject, and even affected not to know that any one had been talking 
about the Hanleys. He was sore at heart when he thought of that fan: 
and lovable girl, before whom the future seemed bo dark an outlool?. 



232 Gerard ; or. 

For Hester the world was not quite what it had been before her 
conversation with the Rector. An unspeakable sadness stole over 
her spirits when she remembered the bitter shame of that hour in 
which she found herself face to face with an orthodox follower of 
the Gospel, and saw her position as it looked in his eyes. A 
gnawiag remorse had fastened upon her heart. She looked back 
with sick regret to the days of poverty and hard labour, the long 
walks through the arid streets, the long hours at her sewing-machine, 
and all the little domestic cares that had been needed to eke out 
scanty resources, and make her father's life comfortable. Gladly 
would she have gone back to the drudgery could she have been as 
Bhe was then — without fear or reproach. The plethora of wealth in 
w^hich she Hved — the flowers, the frivohties, the wastefulness which 
she had no power to control, shocked and pained her. She felt like 
an Indian wife in some luxurious zenana, helpless, hopeless, irrespon- 
sible. The fact that her future was amply pro%'ided for, a fact of which 
Gerard had assured her in the most delicate manner, gave her no satis- 
faction. She could not conceive the possibility of hfe whenhe was gone. 

She bore her burden in silence. He for whom she had sacrificed 
rehgion and good name never knew of those long watches of the 
night in which her thoughts were full of sadness. He never saw her 
tears or heard her complain of all that was painful in her position at 
the Eosary. The October days drew in ; the harmony in red and 
gold land russet, which had made autumnal woods lovelier than 
summer foliage, gradually faded to the dull grey of winter. At 
every breath of the wind the dead leaves came gently showering 
do^Ti, with sound as faint as a snowfall, and all the upper branches 
of beech and elm were bare, while here and there some sturdy oak 
still spread boughs of red or gold against the iron sky. 

The days were short, and often too cold for idle hours upon the 
river. Scarcely had the wintry sun sloped toward the westward 
curve of the reedy shore when the pale mist of night began to creep 
over the meadows and along the river, untU it slowly rose and 
wrapped house and garden m one dense cloud. Hester's tender 
care guarded Gerard from those river fogs with strictest watchful- 
ness, for had not he told her Dr. South's poor opinion of his lungs? 
Thus the long evenings might have hung heavily upon them both 
had they not both been students, for whom the longest life would 
have been only too short for the unexplored, inexhaustible world of 
books. To study tlie catalogues of booksellers, to read the advertise- 
ments of new books in the Atlienoeum, and to order every book that 
took his fancy made one unfailing source of amusement for Gerard 
5[illersdonj and with these long, quiet evenings old ambitions revived. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 233 

He would write a novel — he would write that narrative poem which 
had been simmering in his mind for years, that story in verse which 
was to have all the depth of Browning and all the delicacy of 
Tennyson, all the dash, wit, and chic of Owen Meredith, with all the 
passion of Swinburne, a poem which, if it succeeded, should mark a 
new era in poetry. 

He loved to talk of his unreaHsed dreams, and Hester loved to 
listen. Thus the wintry evenings were seldom too long, and Hester, 
seeing him happy, felt that her sacrifice had not been in vam, and 
told herself again and again that her own feelings were as nothing 
when weighed against his content. 

He went up to London one bright October day, and saw Dr. 
South, who expressed himself altogether hopefullj'. 

" You have been taking life easily," he said, " and the result is all 
I could wish, more than I hoped. Your heart is better, your lungs 
are stronger. We cannot give you a new heart, but we can make 
the old one wear much longer than I thought possible the last 
time I saw you. Frankly, you were in a very bad way just then." 

Gerard heard this verdict with delight. So far from being tired 
of this world he had a greed of life. He could comtemplate old age 
with calmness. That season which to the mind of youth is ordinarily 
a jest and yet a horror had for him no terrors. He could con- 
template long years of luxurious repose, in that palace of art which 
he had built for himself, and to which every year of declining life 
should bring new treasures. He could think of himself seated among 
his books, his statues, pictures, gems, curios ; white-haired, white- 
bearded, wise with the hoarded wisdom of a long life ; a man to 
whom young men should come as they went to Protagoras, to hear 
golden words of philosophic counsel. Fate had given him the gold 
which can buy such an old age as this. He thought of Samuel 
Rogers, of Stirling Maxwell — of the few men who seem to have 
drunk the wine of hfe to the lees, and yet to have found no bitter- 
ness in the cup ; and he saw before him the possibility of a life as 
perfect as theirs, could but hfe itself hold out. That was the one 
all-absorbing desire — to keep the bond intact between consciousness 
and this clay — without which he had been taught to beheve con- 
sciousness must cease to be. 

He went back to the Rosary after that interview with Dr. South 
happier than he had been for some time. He felt his youth renewed, 
the shadow of impending doom removed from hia path. He was 
more than ever devoted to Hester. He told her the doctor's opinion, 
and kissed away her tears of joy. 

In Devonshire there had been some anxiety about him,. \\x. and 



234 Gerard ; or, 

Mrs. Hillersdon had returned from a long stay at Royat and a 
delightful tour in the south-west of France. They were now in- 
Btalled at the Rectory, where Lilian was occupied with preparations 
for her marriage. 

" Mother is very disappointed to hear that you are not coming to 
us before Cliristmas," wrote Lihan. " She wants to thank you for 
all the pleasure your money has afforded her and father ; and to 
tell you how easy and luxurious our travels were made by your 
generous gift. For my part I have worlds to tell you, and I shall 
be unhappy tiU we meet. We stayed three days in town, for father 
to see his old friends at the clubs and to dine with some clerical 
bigwigs, and for mother and me to do our shopping, which was 
tremendous. We went on the very first momLng to Hillersdon 
House, and it was a blow to find that you were not there or likeh' 
to be there for an indefinite time. Your servants were rather 
mysterious about you — servants love mystery, don't they ? Your 
paragon housekeeper was at Brighton, your butler had gone for an 
ahing in the Park. The footman did not know your address, but 
told me in the most condescending way that our letters would be 
forwarded to you ; so I Hve in the hope that you will receive this 
letter somewhere, by land or sea, in a shooting-lodge in the Highlands, 
or on a Norwegian lake. 

" I am very unhappy about that poor girl in whose fate you were 
as much — or almost as much — interested as I was. I mean Hester 
Davenport. After having failed in finding you, I drove to Chelsea, 
hoping to find Hester. I wanted to take her to lunch with mother 
at the Alexandra, and then to a picture galleiy, just to make a 
little break in her monotonous Hfe. But I found her rooms empty, 
and her landlady was very doleful about her. She left one morning 
in the middle of August ; paid what was owing, put together a few 
things in a Gladstone bag, sent her landlady's little boy for a cab, 
and drove off. Heaven knows where. Her father had disappeared 
mysteriously a few days before, and the landlady thought this had 
upset poor Hester. She was very much agitated when leaving, 
quite unlike her usual self. She gave no address, but a fortnight 
afterwards the landlady received a few lines from her, tcUing her to 
send any letters that might be waiting for her, addressed to H., at 
the Post Office, Reading. Two of Whiteley's men came about the 
same time with an ordef from Hester, packed up all her books, her 
father's clothes and belongings, in two deal cases, addressed them 
to the South- Western Station, Reading, to be called for, and left 
them ready for the railway people to take away. Nothing more 
has been heard of Hester or her father at their old lodgings. The 



I 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 235 

landlady cried -when she talked of them, and she evidently thinks 
there is something wrong. I have a good mind to write to Hester, 
and address my letter to the Reading Post Office, and yet what can 
I say to her ? It is all so mysterious ; first the old man's disappear- 
ance, and then her sudden flight. It seemed like a flight, did it not? 

"Jack was very glad to see us on our return. He has been 
■working hard all the summer, has had neither hoHday nor change 
of air ; but now he is coming down to Helmsleigh for the harvest 
festival, and we are all going to be very happy. "We want you to 
complete our happiness." 

Gerard destroyed this letter directly he had read it, knowing how 
these words of his sister would have distressed Hester. She had 
Bpoken of Lilian very rarely, and he had heard the deep regret in 
her tone, the sorrow for the loss of a friendship that had been very 
dear, the hopelessness of that friendship's renewal. Not for worl(i 
would he have her reminded of the morning of her flight, with its 
agony of conflicting emotions, shame, regret, fond self-sacrificing 
love, courage to meet the worst that fate could bring, for his sake. 
He could recall her face now in its rigid whiteness, as the cab drove 
up to the station door where he stood ready to receive her. They 
had parted only a few hours before in the rosy flush of morninc. 
They were meeting now never to part again, Gerard told her, as 
they sat side by side in the railway carriage, careless whither the 
train took them on their first journey together. 

Lilian's letter brought back the memory of that momino- to 
Gerard, and with it a revival of his tenderest feelings. How gentle, 
how utterly unselfish she had been in the despair which went with 
her surrender ; how careful that he should not sufler from her 
remorse ! He began to think seriously of trying to free himself 
from his promise to Edith Champion — that promise made in her 
husband's lifetime, and of which she had said, " Remember, it is an 
oath." He began to think of confessing the new tie with which he 
had bound himself, and appealing to Edith's generosity to release 
him. He thought of this, but as it was a thing which could be done 
at any time, he was in no hast« to do it. Should new obhgations 
arise — should there be the promise of a child to be born to him — 
well, in that case it might be his duty to release himself, at any cost, 
from that older tie. 

Justin Jermvn dropped in frequently during these shortening 
autumnal days, always full of animal spirits, always with his budget 
of Uttle social scandals, which set everybody m a ridiculous light, 
and oflered food for laughter. What a preposterous world it seemed, 
contemplated from his standpoipt and how could anybody be serious 



2 



6 Gerard ; or. 



about it, or care by what slow linking together of infinitesimals, by 
what processes, molecular or nebular, this speck in the universe 
had come to be the thing it is ? Hester hated his mocking talk, 
but she was glad to see Gerard amused within the narrow hmits of 
the Kosary. Had there been no such visitor as Jermyn, he might 
have wanted to go to London oftener, perhaps. So in some wise 
Ehe had reason to be gi-ateful to Jermyn. 

Matt Muller, the landscape painter, to whom the Thames had 
been a gold mine, was still hving on his house-boat, despite those 
autumnal mists which were more conducive to art than to healtli. 
He was buUduig himself a cottage and painting-room on the river 
bank, and had the delightful duty of watching the bricklayers at 
their work. Jermyn oscillated between London and Mr. Muller's 
house-boat, and was always fresh and metropolitan, while the painter, 
he protested, had lapsed into a bovine state of being, and thought 
of nothing but the canvas on his easel and the cottage that waa 
slowly rising out of a level stretch of meadow land. 

Jermyn stayed later than usual one evening after dining at the 
Rosary. The weather had been exceptionally fine during the last 
few days. This was St. Luke's summer, as Hester said, with a 
faint sigh, when she heard the church bells pealing along the river, 
and remembered the date, the eighteenth of October, St. Luke's 
Day — day which, in the years that were past, had seen her kneeling 
in her place at church ; day which for her henceforth meant only 
the uncertified anniversary of a problematical personage. 

She had spent the morning on the river with Gerard, tempted by 
the warmth of the sunshine which gilded meadow and islet. They 
had stayed out till the edge of dusk, and, creeping slowly home iu 
their punt, had found Jermyn pacing the lawn by the water, looking 
out for their return. 

"I have come to offer myself for dinner," he said, as he helped Hester 
out'of the boat. " It is ages since I have bored you with my society — 
a week at the very least — and I have brought you a budget of news, 
Gerard; news not altogether fit for IMrs. Boffin," shaking his finger 
at Hester, " so I must keep it for our half-hour in your cosy tabagie." 

" Your half-hours in the smoking-room are very long," said Hester. 

" Their length proves that I can interest Gerard. You ought to 
be very grateful to me, Mrs Hanley. He would expire of ennui in 
this dehcious retreat if I did not bring him a faithful report of all 
the malicious things that are done and said in London." 

" I have forgotten tlio meaning of the word ennui since I came to 
tlje Kosary," said Gerard ; " so you may suppress all desire to patronise 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 237 

Us upon that score. When the leaves are all off the trees and the 
Thames begins to look dreary, we shall take wing for the Riviera." 

"I -will meet you at Monte Carlo. I am more at home there than 
anywhere," said Jermyn, gaily. 

" I doubt if we shall go to Monte Carlo." 

" Oh yes, you will. You won't go, perhaps — you'll gravitate there. 
It has been called the loadstone rock, don't you know. It will draw 
you, as that rock in the story drew the nails out of Siubad's vessel. 
You will find yourself powerless against the fascination of one of the 
loveliest spots upon this earth. I shall be just as sure of meeting 
you there as Caesar's shade was of meeting Brutus at Philippi." 

The dinner passed gaily. The lamplit table was brilliant with 
the beauty of decay, decked with autumn leaves and berries of 
various and harmonious colouring, which Hester had collected that 
morning in a woodland walk, while the world was all fresh and 
dewy. The evening was so mild that the two young men were 
able to smoke their after-dinner cigars and enjoy then- after-dinner 
talk pacing up and down the gravel path in front of the drawing- 
room, while Hester sat in the lamplight by the hearth, where a 
fire of pine logs gave a show of cheerfulness without too much heat. 
She had her work and her books about her, and the girlish figure 
in the white gown in the brighth'-furnished room made a graceful 
picture of home-life altogether unlike that vision of Boheraianisra 
and debauchery which the spinsters of Lowcombe imagined within 
the walls of the Rosary. 

" Does Mrs. Hanley go with yon to the South ? " inquired JermjTi, 
after they had exhausted his stock of London gossip, and were 
lapsing into thoughtfulness. 

The night was even lovelier than the day had been ; the sky was 
fuU of stars, and now towards ten o'clock, the late moon was rising 
round and golden from behind a wooded hill on the opposite shore. 

" Natiirlich. Did you suppose I should leave her behind ? " 

"I only suppose there is an end to all things. You have had a 
very long honejinoon." 

" We are not tired of each other yet." 

" No ? " interrogatively. " And poor Mrs. Champion, whom the 
world declares you are to marry directly she is out of her weeds. 
It will be rather rough upon her if you many any one else." 

" That is a matter for the lady's consideration and mine — not for 
yours." 

" I apologise. After all the chief aim in this life is to be happy, 
and so long as you are happy with the lady yonder — a most lovely 
and amiable creature " 



^3^ Gerard ; or, 

" For God's sake hold your tongue I You mean kindly to 03 
both, I dare say — but every word you say increases my irritation." 

" My dear HHlersdon, how sensitive you are. Strange that a 
position which seems to have secured your happiness should not 
bear discussion — even with an intimate friend." 

Gerard turned upon his heel, and went back to the house, Jermyn 
following him, and the two young men spent the rest of the evening 
in the drawing-room with Hester, where their talk was no longer of 
living people, but of books and ideas, and of great minds that have 
gone out into the Unknown. Hester was always carried away by 
talk of this kind, carried away from remorseful brooding, from the 
consciousness of an abiding sorrow. In that shadowy world of 
speculative thought all painful feelings were merged m the one 
great mystery, what we are and whither we are going; whether 
that individual existence, so agonisingly distinct to-day, shall to- 
morrow merge and melt into the infinitesimal life which builds the 
coral reef and recomposes the earth we tread on. 

Such conversations always left her in deepest melancholy. Yet 
she took a morbid pleasure in them, as people do in books that 
make them cry. 

The wood fire and the lamplight had heated the low cottage 
drawing-room over much before Justin Jermyn left, and when he 
was gone Gerard opened the window, and let in the coal, soft air, 
and the wide sweep of moonlit sky, above a ridge of firs which 
bounded the landscape. The moon was high in the midmost heaven 
by this time, riding triumphantly amidst that glorious company oi 
stars which look like her satellites. Hester and Gerard stood at the 
open window, contemplating the sky and river, glad to be alone, albeit 
they had not wearied of Jermy.i, who had a knack of being interest- 
ing upon any subject. They were both silent, both full of thought, 
glad to rest after the animated discussion of the last two hours. 

" Hark ! " said Gerard, suddenly. " Some one has opened the 
garden gate. Jermyn is coming back. "What can he want ? " 

Hester's ear was quicker than his. She heard a step upon tlio 
travel, a feeble, dragging footstep, as of one who was weary unto death. 

" It is not his step," she said. " It is some one who is old and 
feeble." 

As she spoke there came creeping out of the shadow of the 
shrubbery, and round by the angle of the house, a figure that had 
a spectral look in the moonlight which silvered the face and shone 
white upon the travel-stained raiment. It was the figure of an old 
man with ragged grey beard and taU, gaunt form. The bent 
shoulders, the slow movements, indicated uttermost weariness. 



I 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 239 

The man came tottering towards the lamplit wmdow, leaning upon 
his stick ; he came closer and closer, till he was face to face with 
Hester, and then with a loud cry he lifted his stick and pointed at 
her triumphantly. 

"I knew it," he cried hysterically, "I knew it was you. I knew 
I had found you — at last — found you in the midst of your infamy — 
living in luxury while your old father has been starving. Yes, by 
Heaven, within an ace of starvation — living in sin • " 

"Father," cried Hester, piteously, stretching out her hands to 
him, trying to put her arms about him, "father, you have no cause 
to blame me. It was you who left me. I was giving you my life 
— would have given it you tUl my last breath — but you left me — 
left me without a word — alone and fatherless." 

Sobs choked her. She could say no more. She could only shape 
the words dumbly, whUe he thrust her from him with a savage gesture. 

"Don't touch me," he cried, "I renounce you — I have done with 
you " 

And then from the father's lips came one of those foul words which 
brand Uke red-hot iron. The daughter sank in an agony of shame 
at his feet — not fainting, only too keenly conscious of her misery. 

To be called that name — and in Gerard's hearing. What could her 
life be ever more after this night but one everlasting sense of shame ? 

Her hands were clasped over her face, as she half knelt, half 
crouched, upon the ground. In those few moments there was time 
for that one thought, " I am that thing which he has called me." 
And then she heard Gerard's hoarse cry of rage, a blow, a groan, 
and her father had fallen like a log on the gravel path beside her. 



CHAPTER XXin. 

"alas, why cam'st xhou htther?" 

He was not dead. Hester, in the first few minutes of helpless 
horror, thought that the blow which had felled her father to the 
ground must needs be his death-blow; but it was not so. Her 
trembling fingers loosened the wisp of rusty black which he woro 
round his throat ; she felt the beating of his heart under the ragged 
flannel shirt. She heard the stertorous breathing, which, however 
dreadful, at least indicated life. 

" Go for the doctor," she cried. " Oh, for God's sake, the doctor 
— without the loss of a moment. You have not killed him." 

" Elilled him ! no. I only ventured to silence his foul tongue — the 
ungrateful old scoundrel. My blow was not murderous — but I meant 
to silence him, and I have done it," said Gerard, with a scornful laugh. 



240 Gerard ; or, 

It seemed such a wortbless life to him, these poor dregs of a 
vrasted existence. Age, poverty, drunkenness, what had such a 
man to hve for, or how should such a man value life ? — and yet 
if one made an end of this wretched remnant of used up humanity 
the act would be called murder, and one might be hanged for it. 

"What should be done ? Send for a doctor ? Yes. It was past 
one o'clock, and the nearest doctor was at Lowcombe, a mile off, 
a medical practitioner whose function it was to see a scattered 
population in and out of the world, a population dispersed at 
inconvenient distances, approachable only by accommodation roads, 
■within a radius of six or seven miles. 

"I'U go to the gardener's cottage and try to get a messenger," 
eaid Gerard. '' Don't be frightened, Hester. Just keep quiet tiU 
I come back." 

He ran off towards the gardener's house, on the other side of the 
road, adjoining a large kitchen garden where the said gardener de- 
lighted in the cultivation of a vast stock of vegetables which nobody 
consumed, and in the consumption of seeds which ought to have been 
enough to sow vegetables over all the waste gi'ound in Berkshire. 

He was gone, and Hester's fears grew more intense as she knelt 
beside the motionless form, hstening to the labouring breath. Had 
he fainted, or was it some kind of stroke which made him un- 
conscious ? She went into the house for water to bathe his temples. 
She tried to force a spoonful of brandy between the pallid lips, but 
without success. She could only watch the face, which the moon- 
light whitened, and note how it had aged and altered for the worse 
since August. Those few months had done the work of years. 
Every line had deepened, and there was something worse than age, 
the pale, duU, soddened look of the habitual drunkard. 

Gerard came back after a quarter of an hour that seemed an 
age. 

"Dowling has started," he said. "I waited till I had seen him 
go. It's nearly an hour's walk there and back. Your folly in 
setting your face against a stable has left us without a messenger 
in a dilemma like this. Hasn't he got his senses back yet ? " 

He stood looking down at the figure stretched at full length 
across the pathway. The path in front of the verandah was 
nan'ow, but by a happy chance Nicholas Davenport had fallen \di\\ 
his head upon the edge of the la^vn, where the turf was thick and 
Boft. Gerard looked down at him with but little compunction, a 
Borry figure in mud-stained clothes, boots split and down at heel, 
trousers torn at the knees and ragged at the edge. 

" I wonder whether the Rector of Lowcombe would urge me to 



The World, (he Flesh, and the Devil. 241 

make this man my father-iu-Iaw," thoiiglit Gerard; and then 
moved by some better feeling he stooped down to lift the heavy 
head from the gi'ound, and with Hester's help conveyed the vox- 
conscious form into the drawing-room, and laid it on the sofa, 
where Hester placed a do'^Ti pillow under the ragged gi-ey hair, 
and spread a plush coverlet over the motionless Hmbs. 

" Is there anything else that we can do ? " she asked piteously. 

"I am afraid not. I am lamentabty ignorant of all medical 
ti'eatment. If Lilian were here she would be ever so much more 
use. I'm afraid it is some kind of fit." 

"Do you think he is dying? " Hester asked, hon-or-stricken. 

She was kneeling by the sofa, holding her father's hand, which 
was cold and inert. 

"I don't know. I know nothing, except that his fall just now 
can hardly have killed him." 

'' If it had you would have been his murderer," she said, horrified 
at his callousness. 

" Would you have preferred me to stand by and hear him insiilt 
you — you who have been his devoted slave — who sacrificed all the 
joys of girlhood to his necessities ? " 

No, he had no compunction. This dotard had broken in upon 
their lives, bringing horror and agitation into their peaceful home ; 
this dotard to whom Hester owed nothing, who had been already 
overpaid in filial duty. He had no compunction, he the young man 
who had raised his hand against age and feebleness. He had no 
more regi'et for this tiling that he had done than he might have felt 
if he had kicked a strayed mongrel from his threshold. He was 
angry with the hazard of life which had brought this most ineligible 
visitor to his retreat, and had perhaps made a happy union with 
Hester impossible henceforward. He knew her exaggerated ideas 
of duty to this drunken log, knew her willingness to sacrifice herself. 
How could he tell what line she would take ? 

Legalise their union, forsooth ! Create a legal link between 
himself and yonder carrion. Go through the rest of his hfe 
ticketed with a disreputable father-in-law. He could not stay in 
the room with that unconscious item of poor humanity. He went 
out and paced the gi'avel walk from end to end, and back again, 
and back again, Avith monotonous repetition, waiting for the coming 
of the doctor, who did not come. The gardener came back in 
something less tlian an hour, to say that the doctor had been sum- 
moned to a distant farmhouse, where there was a baby expected, 
and would doubtless remain there till the arrival of the baby. The 
farmhouse was nearly five miles on the other side of Lowcombei 

li 



2A2 Gerard ; or, 

All that the doctor's wife could promise was that her husband should 
go to the Rosary as soon as possible after his return home. 

Thus, through the long October night there was nothing to be 
done but to wait and watch in patience. The air grew chill as 
morning approached, and Gerard came back to the drawing-room, 
where Hester had kept up the fire, and where the lamp was still 
burning. The old man's breathing was quieter, and he seemed 
now to have sunk into a heavy sleep. 

" He will do well enough," said Gerard, looking at the unlovely 
sleeper. " There is a Providence that watches over drunkards." 

" Gerard, Gerard, how cruel you are ! " 

" Do you expect me to be kind ? I would have given thousands 
to keep that man out of our life." 

" You gave him the money that set him on the wrong path," 
she said. 

" I gave him money to get rid of him. I saw your life sacrificed 
to an imaginary claim. I saw your youth fading — your beauty 
with a blight upon it — the blight of poverty and care. He was the 
only bar to our happiness, and I swept him out of my way. 
We have been happy, Hester. For pity's sake don't tell me you 
care more for that vpreck of humanity than you care for me ! " 

" I care for him because he is my father, and has such sore need 
of my love." 

"Ah, that is the old stoiy. Well, you can go on caring for him 
— vicariously. We will put him in a sanatorium where his declining 
years will be made comfortable, and where he will be protected 
from his pernicious propensities." 

She took no notice of this speech. She was sitting, as she had 
sat through the greater part of that night, holding her father's 
hand, stooping now and then to moisten his forehead with a hand- 
kerchief dipped in Eau-de-Cologne, listening to his breathing, 
hoping for the daylight and the coming of the doctor. 

Daylight came at last, chilly and misty, and soon after daylight 
Mr. Mivor, the long-established and trusted family practitioner, was 
ushered into the room by a sleepy housemaid, who had heard with 
wonder that there was an invalid in the house — some one who had 
arrived unexpectedly in the night, and for whom a bedroom was to 
be aired and oiade ready. Hester had gone upstairs at daybreak to 
call the servants, and had seen to the lighting of a fire in this 
unused bedroom, a pleasant room enough, looking out over the 
high road and kitchen garden to the park-like meadows beyond. 

Mr. Mivor had heard various conversations about the young 
couple at the Rosary, but as a discreet practitioner and a man of the 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 243 

world had refrained from all expression of opinion. He was not 
the less interested in this social mystery, and his curiosity was 
considerably increased by what he saw this morning — those two 
pale faces, the man's sullen and heavy, the woman's haggard with 
anxiety, and between them this shabby, disreputable figure, this 
sodden countenance, ia which the medical eye was quick to see the 
indications of habitual intemperance. 

" "^Tien did the seizure occur? " he asked, after he had made his 
examination. 

" Soon after one o'clock." 

" Was he in good health up to that time ? " 

" I don't know. He came into the house — an unexpected visitor 
— and dropped down almost immediately. He has been unconscious 
ever since," Gerard answered deliberately. 

"And there was no exciting cause — no quaiTel, no shock of any 
kind? " interrogated the doctor, with a sharp look at the speaker. 

" It may have baen a shock to him to find us — in his state of 
mind — which I take it was not of the clearest." 

"You think he had been drinking? " 

" I think it more than Ukely he had." 

Mr. Mivor postponed all further questions. He took out a neat 
little leather case, which he was in the habit of carrying with him 
on his professional rounds, and from this closely packed repository 
he selected a powder which he administered to the patient with his 
own hands, gravely watchful of him all the time. The old man's 
eyes opened for a moment or two, only to close again. 

"You will want a trained nurse," he said presently, "if this 
person is to remain in your house — and, indeed, it would not be safe 
for him to be moved for some days." 

" He will remain here, and I shall help to nurse him," said Hester, 
who had resumed her seat by the sleeper's piUow. " He is rqy father." 

" Your father ! I did not quite understand," said the doctor, not a 
little surprised at this revelation, for he had noted the ragged flannel 
shirt, the greasy coat-collar, and the general aspect of foulness and 
decay which made the old man's presence in that room a cause of 
wonder. 

Her father ! This poor human wreck the father of the beautiful 
Mrs. Hanley, about whom there had been so many speculations! 
Were some of her malevolent detractors right after all, and did she 
really come from the gutter ? 

He looked at the old man's face more thoughtfully than before. 
Bloated and disfigured as those features were by evil habits, they did 
not show the coarse modelling which is supposed to go with low birth. 



244 Gerard : or. 

The hand lying inert on the phish coverlet was slender and finely 
formed — a hand that had never been hardened by the day-labourer's 
Avork. The man might once have been a gentleman. The capacity 
for intemperance is sometimes immeasurable even in gentle blood. 

Mr. Mivor Avas not quite satisfied with the aspect of the case. 
He did not imphcitly believe that story of the old man's entrance 
upon the scene, and immediate seizure. The stroke was a paralytic 
stroke, he had no doubt of that — but he suspected that there was 
somethmg being kept from him, and he was all the more suspicious 
after Mrs. Hanley's admission of her relationship to the patient. 
His duty, however, lay clear before him. Whatever might have 
happened in the small hours of the night that was gone — even if 
there had been a quarrel between the old man and the young one, 
and violence of some kind, as he suspected — the man was not dead. 
His duty was to cure him, if he could, and his interest was to keep 
his suspicions to himself. 

" I'll telegraph to London for a hospital nurse, if you like," he said. 

"Pray do," assented Gerard, ringing the bell. " I'll send oft" your 
telegram as soon as it is written." 

" And in the meantime," said the doctor, waiting his message at 
a table where there were all the necessary materials ready to liis 
hand, " I will help you to get the patient comfortably to bed." 

"His room is quite ready," Hester said. "I can do anything for 
him — I am used to waiting upon him." 

" He has been ill before now, I suppose, then ? " 

" Never so bad as this. I never saw him lose consciousness as 
he did last night — after he fell." 

Her faltering accents and the distress in her face assured Mr. 
Mivor that his conjecture was well founded, but he pressed her with 
no further questioning, and quietly, with the skill and gentleness of 
the trained practitioner, he assisted the scared manservant to carry 
tlie slumbering form to the room above, and assisted Hester in 
removing the weather-stained outer garments, and settling the 
patient comfortably in tlie bed that had been made ready. 

The fire burned cheerily in the old-fashioned grate, the autumn 
sun shone brightly outside. Tlie room witli its dainty French paper 
and white furniture looked fresli and jture as if it had been prepared 
lor a ])nde — and there on the bed lay the victim of his own vices — • 
tliose negative sins of sloth and intemperance which are supposed 
to injure only the sinner. 

" My poor father has been wandering about the country till his 
'clothes have got into this dreadful state," Hester said to the doctorj 
apolojuetically, as she laid tlie wretcliod garments on a chair, "j 



The World, the Flesh, and tlic Devil 245 

have a trunk full of his things in the house, ready for him when he 
wants them. I suppose it is my duty to tell you that he has been 
the victim of intemperate habits, induced in the first instance by 
acute neuralgia. He is very much to be pitied, poor dear. You 
won't tell any one, will you? " 

" Tell any one ! My dear yOung lady, what do you think doctors 
are made of? Family secrets are as sacred for us as they are for the 
priesthood. It was very easy for me to guess that drmk — and only 
drink — could have brought a gentleman to this sad pass. And now 
I shall leave you to take care of him till the nurse arrives. I dare 
say she Avill be here early in the afternoon. I'll look in before dark." 

When he was gone Hester examined her father's pockets. In 
the large outside pocket of the shooting-jacket there was a shattered 
volume of Horace, containing the satires, the margins annotated in 
Nicholas Davenport's small penmanship — penmanship which had 
retained something of its original microscopic neatness, in spite of 
shaken nerves and tremulous fingers. 

In the breast-pocket of the same coat there were a good many 
pages of manuscript, with many interlineations and blottings, mdica- 
tive of strenuous labour. These were all of the same character, 
metrical translations of some of the satires. These attempts indi- 
cated extraordinary labour, the same passages being reproduced 
over and over again — now in one metre, now in another — but no 
section of the work was finished. There were all the marks of a 
weakened will directing a once powerful intellect. 

Hester gave these pages to Gerard presently when ho came in to 
look at the patient. She gave them to him in silence, not even 
looking at him, lest her face should express too intense a reproach. 
These laboured translations proved how completely the scholar had 
been duped by the man who had deliberately tempted him back 
into the way of vice. 

" Poor fellow ! Yes, he tried to earn my money. He had the 
instinct of a gentleman. I was a scoundrel, and you do well to hate 
or to despise me. I am worthy of nothing better." 

" Hate you ! " she repeated, in a low, broken voice, "you know I can 
never do that. You did not realise what you were doing, or you never 
could have done such a cruel thing. You have ruined him, body and 
soul ; but I am as much to blame as you. If I had been true to my- 
self and to him, I might have found him and brought him back." 

" Yes, if you had sacrificed youth, and love, and loveliness, and 
all fair things in this brief life for that worn-out hulk. No, Hester, 
I am not bnital, I am not heartless. I am sorry for him ; but he is 
the victim of his own instincts, and if the opportunity had not come 



246 Gerard; or, ^ 

from my liand it would have come from some other hand. I should 
be much more sorry if you had gone on with that duU slavery which 
cut you off from all the joys that youth has a right to claim from 
life. I was mad when I saw your patient drudgery, your blank 
pleasureless days. I would have done a worse thing than I did to 
rescue you. And now — well — we must do the best we can for 
him " — with a reluctant glance at the sleeper. " After all, he is 
no worse off than many an elderly Crcesus struck down in the 
midst of his possessions. To this comjjlexion we must all come 
at last." 

Hester answered nothing to his philosophical summing up of the 
situation. She took her seat by the bedside, watchful, ready to 
carry out the doctor's instructions, which were of the simplest. 
There was hardly anything to be done. The old man might awaken 
from that prolonged slumber in his right mind, or he might not. 
She could but wait and watch. She had drawn down the blinds, 
and sat in the subdued light — sat with folded hands, and lips which 
moved in prayer to that Personal God of whose non-existence her 
latest studies had assured her. In this hour of agony and self- 
reproach her thoughts went back into the old paths ; and even in 
the Great Perhaps there was some touch of comfort. Surely some- 
where, she told herself, there must exist some Spirit of love and 
pity, some Universal All-comprehending Mind greater than the 
mind of man, to which sorrow could make its appeal — in which 
despair could find a refuge. All the peoples of the earth have felt 
the necessity for a God. Could this blind gi'oping after the Great 
Spirit mean nothing, after all ? The words of her new teachers — 
words of power from the pens of men who had thought long and 
deeply, who had brought culture and pure science to bear upon the 
problems of life and mind — came back to her in their inflexible 
assuredness — the words of men who said there was no God, and 
that the world was none the poorer for the loss of Him — the words 
of men who said that this life could be full of grace and pleasantness 
and hope and love, albeit there was no better life beyond, and our 
beloved dead were verily and for ever dead. 

And then words more familiar, words known long before, recurred 
with a quieting power, like the sound of a melody learnt in child- 
hood, and a gush of tears loosened the iron bands that held her 
heart, and a ray of hope stole in upon the darkness of her thoughts. 
"Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 247 
CHAPTER XXIV. 

"alas for me, then, my good DATS ARE DONE." 

Lii'E went by with dull and measured pace after that night of terror. 
Nicholas Davenport recovered consciousness upon awakening from 
that prolonged slumber, which may have marked the exhaustion 
following upon long wanderings from village to village, poor food, 
and unrestful nights in miserable beds. Hester found a rough record 
of his journejangs in his pockets, in the shape of crumpled tavern 
bills — the earliest in date a weekly account from the landlord of a 
little inn at Abingdon. This dated as far back as August, and it 
was evident the old man had gone to Abingdon almost immediately 
upon the receipt of Gerard's money, it might be with some dim idea 
of being near Oxford and the Bodleian, or it might be from some 
memories of joyous days spent along the river when he was an 
undergraduate. There were several bills from the Abingdon Inn, 
spreading over a period of six or seven weeks, and the bills marked a 
downward progress in the drunkard's career, each successive account 
showing a larger consumption of alcohol. The last account was not re- 
ceipted, and it seemed but too likely that the old man had left in debt. 
Later bills showed a journey down the river, by land or water. 
The names of the towns or villages where he had stopped had a 
rustic sound, the signs of the inns were quaint and old-fashioned. 
The Ring of Bells. The Old House at Home. The First and Last. 
But whatever the sign might be, Nicholas Davenport's bill showed 
that his chief outlay had been for alcohol — brandy in the earlier 
stages of the journey. Later, when his funds were dwindling, the 
drink had been gin. The unhappy man had chosen the very worst 
direction for his fated footsteps, for in those low-lying rural villages 
by the river he must have found the atmosphere most calculated to 
bring back those neuralgic agonies which had been first the cause, 
and afterwards both cause and excuse, for his intemperance. His 
daughter's care had kept the fiend at a distance, but he had gone in 
the very way of his old enemy. The last in date of all the bills was 
a scrawling memorandum from a wayside public-house in the next 
village to Lowcombe, and hardly two miles from the Rosary. It 
was doubtless from the fireside gossips of the tap-room that Nicholas 
Davenport had heard that description of Mr. and Mrs. Hanley and 
their manner of life which had led him to suspect their identity with 
Gerard and Hester. And now he was stretched on a sick bed, 
helpless, the power of movement lost to the long lank limbs : help- 
less and almost imbecile. The mind was dim and blurred. Memory 



248 Gerard ; or, 

was gone, save for rare and sudden flashes of recollection, which 
had about them something strange and unearthly that thrilled his 
daughter with awe. Some sudden allusion to the past, some sharp, 
clear, scrap of speech startled and scared her as if the dead had 
spoken. His imbecility seemed far less unnatural, less painful even, 
than these transient revivifications of sense and memorj'. 

The nursing sister, a quiet, orderly person between thhty and 
forty, tall, broad-shouldered, vigorous, and with a hearty appetite 
for her meals, relieved Hester's watches in the invalid's room ; and 
after the first week a male attendant was engaged, who would be 
able to assist in getting the patient out of doors, so soon as he should 
be well enough to be moved into a Bath chair, and wheeled about the 
gardens and lanes. Mr. Mivor explained to Hester that her father's 
condition was not so much an illness as a state. He had little hope 
in any marked recovery, physical or mental. Mr. Davenport's con- 
stitution had been destroyed by intemperance, and the surprise, the 
shock, whatever it was that brought about the seizure of the other 
night, had onlj' precipitated a crisis that was, in a measure, inevitable. 

Hester's colour came and went as she listened to his opinion. 
She hfted her eyes to the doctor with an imploring look. 

" Tell me the truth, Mr. Mivor, the whole truth. Do you really 
think that what happened the other night has made hardly any 
dift'ercnce to my father — that this sad state of things must have 
come about, even if " 

" Even if there had been no agitating cause — no fall. Yes, I do- 
But the fall came before the stroke, I think, did it not ? " 

" Yes, I am sorry to say ; " and then in trembling accents she went 
on, " I am so anxious to know the truth, to know the worst even, 
that I must tell you all. You have promised to keep our secrets ? " 

" Yes, yes, be assured that you can trust me." 

" I left my home to spend my life with Mr. Hanley — left without 
my father's knowledge. He was away from our poor lodgings at 
the time — and I thought that he had deserted mc, and I may have 
cared less on that account, perhaps. But he had not meant to 
abandon me, I am sure. He had gone away under a misapprehen- 
sion, and after wandering about the country he found us here— and 
he was not (juite himself, I think, for he spoke to me cruelly — with 
words which no father " 

She broke down, sobbing out the bitter memory of that night. 
The worthy doctor soothed her with kindly sympathy. He had seen 
much of those storms of care and woe, anger and strife, tliat rage in 
the households whose outward seeming is peace and pleasantness, 
and he had a tender lieart for the sorrows of his patients, especially 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 249 

fur a young and beautiful woman who was expiating the sin of having 
loved too well, and who was evidently not of the clay of whicli 
sinners are made. 

" Don't tell me any more," he said ; " there were high words— a 
little bit of a scuffle perhaps, and your father fell. I thought as 
much when I helped to undress him, I examined him carefully. 
There were two or three incipient bruises — nothing more. Such a 
fall would not have produced the seizure. That was the result of 
gradual decay, the decay of an alcoholised brain. Your father has 
been the chief sinner against himself." 

There was infinite relief in this opinion so far as Gerard was con- 
cerned, but it did not lessen the burden of her own remorseful 
conscience. She blamed herself for this final ruin of the life she 
had fought so hard to reclaim. 

One duty, one atonement, only remained, she thought, and that 
was to bear her burden, and to make this broken life as happy as 
she could. Her father knew her, and took pleasure in her com- 
panionship. That was much. He accepted his surroundings with- 
out inquiry or astonishment, and enjoyed the luxuries that were 
provided for him without asking whence they came. He saw Gerard 
without agitation, occasionally recognising him and addressing him 
by name, at other times greeting him with the distant poHteness due 
to a stranger. And Gerard endured his presence in the house, at 
first with a sublime patience, even going out of his way to pay the 
feeble old man little attentions when he met him in the garden or 
neighbouring lanes on sunny mornings, dragged along in his com- 
fortable Bath chair, wrapped to the chin in fur, with Hester walking 
at his side. While the scene of that awful night, the fears that had 
haunted him in the slow hours of waiting for dawn and the doctor, 
were still fresh in his memory, a touch of pity and remorse made 
him patient of a presence which could not bring comfort or pleasant- 
ness into his retreat ; but after a month of this endurance, the 
incubus began to oppress and annoy him, even although Hester 
took care that he should see as little as possible of that third inmate 
of the house, and refrained from worrying him with any details of her 
father's life, whether he were better or worse, cheerful or depressed. 
The mere consciousness of the old man's existence became unbear- 
able, and Gerard urged the need of placing him in a sanatorium, where, 
as he argued, he would be better cared for than in any private home. 
Hester was unhesitating in her refusal. 

" He could not bo happier or better cared for than he is here," 
she said, "and even if he were as well cared for, which I doubt, I 
should not know it, and should be miserable about him." 



250 Gerard; or, 

" That is rather a bad look-out for me. And how long is this 
kind of thing to last ? " 

" As long as he lives." 

"And according to your friend, ]\Ir. Mivor, he may last for years 
— a wreck, but a hving wreck — and in that case he wiU outlast me. 
You cannot mean it, Hester. You can't mean to abandon me for 
— this unlucky old man ? " 

" Abandon you ! Gerard, how could you think it ? " 

" But I must think it. Xo one can serve two masters. If you 
insist upon staying here to nurse your father, you can't go to the 
South with me, and what becomes of our winter in Italv ? " 

" I have been thinking of that," she said, with a troubled look. 
"But is it really necessary for you to go to the South? The 
■weather has been so mild." 

" It generally is before Chiistmas. Winter doesn't begin to show 
his teeth till January." 

" And you have been so well." 

"Xot well enough to face five months' cold weather, or to disobey 
my doctor. He told me to winter in the South." 

Hester sighed, and was silent for a few moments. Oh, that dream 
of the lovely South, how sweet it had been, how fondly she had 
dwelt upon Browning's Italian poems, upon all those word-pictures 
of mountain and ohve wood, cypress and aloe ; the lull-side chapel, 
the mule path, the straggUng town upon the mountain ridge, the 
viae-shadowed herceau, the sapphire lake ! And she had to renoimce 
this fair dream ; and, infinitely worse, she had to part from Gerard. 
If he must go to the South, they must be parted. 

" I would give up anything rather than leave my father," she said 
quietly. " I think you must know how I have looked forward to seeing 
that lovely South, the coimtries that seem a kind of dreamland when 
one thinks of them in our prosaic world, and seeing them with you — 
with you ! But if you must go, you must go alone. You will come 
back to me, won't you, dear? The parting won't be for ever ? " 

" I shall come back — yes, of course, if I Hve ; but it will be hideously 
dreary for you here all the winter. Surely you could trust your father 
to the nurse and his man. They are very kind to him, aren't they ? " 

" Yes, they are kind, and I am here to see that they are kind. 
How do I know what would happen if I were away ? He is very 
trying sometimes. They might lose patience with him." 

'• A sharp word would not hurt him once in a way. They would have 
to be kind to him in the main. His existence means bread and cheese 
for them, and it would be to their interest to make him comfortable." 

" That would not absolve me from my duty, Gerard. Xo ; I must 
stay with him till the end." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 251 

" Well, you must do as you please. If you find this place too 
dismal or too damp you can take your invalid to Hastings or Tor- 
quay. He could travel as far as that, I suppose ? " 

" I don't think so. Mr. Mivor said that any fatigue or excite- 
ment might be dangerous. He is to be kept as quiet as possible, 
and this place suits him admirably." 

" And he suits Mivor as a patient." 

" That's a very unfair insinuation, Gerard. ]\Ir. Mivor might come to 
see him every day, yet he only comes once in ten days. He told me the 
other day that he would not come again unless he were sent for ; but 
urged him to come occasionally just to see that no neglect was arising." 

" I don't grudge Mivor his fees. I only lament the change that 
has come into our life — the life we were to lead together ; " and then, 
touched by the sadness in Hester's face, he went on, " After all, if 
the winter were very mUd, I might rub on here, perhaps." 

" No, no," she cried eagerly, " you must run no risk. Oh, Gerard, 
surely you know how precious your life is to me — dearer than any 
other life. You must know that it is duty that keeps me here — 
that love would have me always by yom- side." 

" I know that you have all the obstinate clinging to unthankful 
duties which is a characteristic of your sex," he said ; " or perhaps 
I ought to say a characteristic of good women. The bad ones 
throw their caps over the mill, laugh duty to scom, and, I believe, 
get the best out of Ufe. Theirs is the Esau's portion, the savoury 
mess that they long for, the pleasure that comes at the nick of time. 
After all, I think that is the best." 

He was lying back in his low hergere beside the drawing-room 
fire, his arms flung up above his head, his eyes gazing dreamily at 
the flaming logs, in that brief half-hour when the cold, pale winter 
day melts into darkness. He was very fond of Hester still, per- 
fectly contented in her society ; but he had begun to think of other 
things when he was with her, and he hated that presence of the old 
man and his attendants upstairs. One of the rooms that Davenport 
occupied was over the drawing-room, and Gerard could hear foot- 
steps crossing the floor now and then, the male attendant's heavy 
tread, the nursing sister's lighter footfall, and at seven o'clock every 
evening the wheels of the invalid-chair drawn slowly across the 
room. He knew the automatic routine of that sad life, the hour at 
which the patient was dressed, his meals, his airing, the business of 
getting him to bed, which happened before Hester and Gerard sat 
down to dinner. He knew all these details, though Hester had 
talked of the patient so Uttle — knew them by their monotonous 
recurrence. He considered what he should do with himself in the 



252 Gerard; or, 

■winter, how make life most pleasant to himself now that the spell 
which had bound him to the Eosary was broken ? He had been 
warned against all excitement. The feverish life of the dissipated 
idler was not for him. The utmost that he could allow himself in the 
way of relaxation would be the societj' of clever people, and a little 
quiet dinner-giving in his fine London house. He could oscUlate 
between London and the Eosary, and Hester need feel no sense of 
desertion. The -winter season had begim ; there would be plenty of 
pleasant people in London. His sister was to be manned in the first 
week of the new year, and he would have to be in Devonshire for 
that occasion. His mother had written to him several times since 
her retm-n from tlie Continent, urging him to go and see her, fuU of 
vague imeasiness about the life he was leading. 

" If Hester owes a duty to her fi^ther, I have my obligation to my 
people," he said to himself, in that long reverie by the fireside. " I 
have to consider the claims of those who have never brought disgrace 
upon me as that old sot has done upon her." 

"What are j'ou thinking of so earnestly, Gerard?" Hester asked 
presently, watching his face in the fitful light. 

" I am thinking of my mother." 

The answer cliilled her. His mother ; yes, he, too, had those who 
were near and dear to him — those in whose lives she had no part. 

" Your mother. Ah. how kind she was to me, and what ages ago 
that old life seems ! Shall I ever see her again, I wonder ? " she 
speculated, with a sigh. 

And then came the bitter thought : "What could his mother think 
of her ? Disgraced, dishonoured, nameless ; an outcast in the sight 
of such a woman as the Eector's wife. She did not reckon upon 
a good woman's Christian charity. She thought of the Eector's 
wife only as of one who had never been touched by sin, and who 
could make no allowances. 

"Your sister is to be married very soon, I suppose?" she said 
interrogatively, after a long pause. 

" In the first week of the year. I shall have to be at the wedding." 

"Of course. My heart will go with you, and all my warmest wishes 
for her happiness — even though she and I may never meet again." 

" Don't harp upon that string, Hester. Let the future take care 
of itself. You arc getting morbid in tliis odious house." 

" Odious ! Oh, Gerard, wo have been so happy here ; I thought 
you loved this house." 

" So I did, while it was full of sunshine and flowers, and before 
j'ou turned it into a hospital. Don't lot us quairel, Hester. I'm a 
little hipped, and I shall be saying disagi'eeable things without mean- 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 253 

ing them. You have reminded me of my sister's wedding, and that I 
have not even thought of a wedding present. What shall I give her ? " 

" Something very handsome, of course ; hut I know how chari- 
table she is, and that she would rather have something for the poor 
people in her new parish." 

" She shall have anything she likes for her poor ; but she must 
have something which she can look at by-and-by as her brother's 
gift. Cheques are the most fashionable offerings from rich relatives, 
so I shall give her a cheque ; but there must be something else — 
a service of plate, I think, will be best. She and Cumberland 
would never have the heart to buy silver for themselves. He would 
say, ' It should be melted down and given to the poor ; ' but Lilian 
will not have my gifts melted down. I will go up to town to- 
mon'ow and choose the service — fine old Georgian plate such as will 
not seem an anachronism in their old Georgian house. I know 
even Cumberland has one small vanity. He wants everything in 
his house to be of the same period as the building itself." 

Gerard went to London on the following morning, and for the 
first time since he had lived at the Kosary, told Hester not to expect 
his return that evening. 

" I may be in London for two or three days," he said. " I Jiave 
a good deal to do there." 

She made no murmm-. She saw him off at the gate with a smile, 
standing waving her hand to him in the winter sunlight, aTid tlieii 
she went slowly back to the house with an aching heart. 

"'Alas for me, then, my good days are done!'" she sighed, 
quoting her favourite Elaine. 

CHAPTER XXV. 

" now COULD IT EXD IN' ANY OTHER WAY ? " 

The winter was mild, one of those moist and gentle seasons which 
delight the heart of the sportsman, but which all the sanitarians and 
ultra sensible people declare to be unhealthy, preaching their little 
sermon about want of aeration, and so on. Gerard was not one of 
these. He hated frost and snow, London snow most of all ; and 
he was glad of a winter which did not oblige him to leave Hester 
for any length of time. He did not want to spend all his days at 
the Eosary. She had made that once delightful retreat in some- 
wise a horror to him ; but he loved her still, and he shrank from 
any act 'that might seem like desertion. When the year of Mrs. 
Champion's widowhood was over he would have to face his difficulty, 
and settle with himself and with his first and second love as to 



2 54 Gerard; or, 

what his life was to be. By that time Nicholas Davenport might 
be peacefully at rest, and the chief impediment to his marriage 
with Hester removed. In the meantime Hester was to him in all 
things as dear and as honoured as if she had been bound to him by 
the strongest tie the law can forge — not a very strong tie, it must 
be admitted, nowadays. He stayed in town for about ten days, 
choosing his sister's wedding present, and seeing all the town had 
to show him in the way of dramatic talent. He gave a couple of 
his famous breakfasts diiring those ten days, and Hillersdon House 
was put in working order, his staff of servants revised and corrected, 
and every detail of Ms luxurious surroundings carefully supervised. 
Valet and butler were told that their master would winter in 
England, mostly in London. Valet and butler were fully aware 
that their master had another establishment; but he had so far 
been cleverer than the average master in keeping the secret of the 
second home. No one knew where he went when he left Hillersdon 
House. He who was so amply furnished with carriages always 
went to the station in a hansom. 

He spent Christmas at the Rosary, three days of quietness and 
contentment, which were a relief after the breakfasts, the copious 
talk, the picture galleries and theatres, the scandals, and perpetual 
movement of London. He would have been quite happy but for 
the uncomfortable consciousness of Nicholas Davenport's presence 
in the room above — an existence which he could never contemplate 
without vague pangs of remorse, lest this death in life were indeed his 
work, lest it had been that blow of his which shattered the feeble intel- 
lect. Hester told him what Mr. Mivor had said about the inevitable- 
ness of the attack ; but this one opinion was not enough for comfort. 
Another doctor and a better doctor might have told a different story. 

Hester tried to be happy in those brief days of holiday ; but the 
old unquestioning happiness, the joy that looked neither before nor 
after, was gone. The perfect union was broken. The ring which 
symbolises eternity was snapped into mere segments of life which she 
must accept with thankfulness. It was much that her lover had not 
deserted her. All the stories that she had ever read went to prove that 
desertion was the inevitable end of forbidden bliss such as she had 
tasted. He had shown her that he could live happily for more than a 
week apart from her, but there was yet no hint of desertion ; and he had 
done much in deferring his journey to Devonshire till after Christmas. 

He left her on a mild and sunny morning, looking far better than 
on his arrival at the cottage. Those few quiet days had rested him 
after the high living and keen contest of malicious wit whicli consti- 
tutcid London society, or that eection of it in which he moved. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 255 

Hester and he had walked in the wintry woods together, and 
enjoj^ed the balmy air of pine thickets, and the soft carpet of fallen 
leaves, with aU the winter charm of chastened colouring under grey 
skies. He told her at parting that he had been very happy. 

" If you could only have given me a little more of your time it 
would have been better," he said. "You are so severe in your 
recognition of a divided duty. Forgive me, love," he added hastily, 
seeing her look of dish'ess. " You are all goodness, and I am a 
wretch to murmur. I will ^vi-ite to you after the wedding." 

" Oh, sooner than that, Gerard ; that would mean quite a week 
to wait ! " 

" Well, then, sooner. But you know what a bad correspondent 
I am. I think volumes about her I love, but my lazy pen refuses 
to write a single page." 

He was gone, and she went back to the cottage, which had taken 
a different look since the change in its master's habits. It no longer 
looked Hke Gerard's home. It had the air of a house to which a 
man comes occasionally, and where things hardly bear the stamp 
of his individuality. The despatch-box was shut ; the writing-table 
showed no litter of scattered papers. The books he read oftenest 
— Swinbui'ne, Baudelaire, Richepin, Verlaine, Comte, Hartmann, 
Darwin, Schopenhauer, were all in their places ; for these were 
books which Hester loved not, and she had not disturbed them in his 
absence. The rooms looked to her like the rooms in a widow's house. 
There was the absence of litter which marks the absence of man. 

She sat by the fire in the study for an hour or more while the 
invalid was being dressed and got ready for his morning airing, sat 
thinking of her own life and what she had made of it ; a melancholy 
review, for her conversation with Mr. Gilstone had swept away all 
sophistry as to her position. She no longer compared herself to 
Shelley's Mary, no longer beheved in the rightfulness of her conduct. 
She stood convicted in her own eyes as a woman who had sinned. 
Whether the universe were or were not directed by a thinking mind, 
she had lost her place among good women. She sat there alone at this 
Christmas season, when other women were surrounded by friends, 
and told herself that she had forfeited the right to womanly friendship. 

She walked beside her father's chair in the lanes for an horn- 
before the brief winter day began to fade, walked at his side, and 
talked to him, and pointed out the features of interest in the land- 
scape, the moving life of beast and bird, as she would have done for 
a child. She Ustened to his feeble, disconnected talk. She made 
him understand — as much as it was in his power to understand any- 
thing — that he was cherished and cared for. 



o 



256 Gerard ; or, 

Tliey did not meet many people in the lanes, but those -whom 
they met took a gi'eat deal more notice of the old man in the Bath 
chair and the pensive face and gh'lish figure of his companion than 
Hester supposed. Gentle and simple were interested — the simple 
with an unalloyed friendliness towards helpless old age and filial 
duty ; the gentle with a touch of pity for the old man, mixed \vith 
conflicting opinions about his daughter. 

The Curate in his soft felt hat, slouched over his brows as if he 
had been a brigand, the Misses Glendower, bent on district visiting, 
Mrs. Donovan driving her self-willed ponies, and crimson with the 
effort of keeping them under control — -all these were keenly observant 
uf Hester, and talked of her with a new zest at afternoon-tea. 

Tliis ai^pearance of an invalid father, who, although physically 
and mentally a wreck, looked liked a gentleman, was calculated to 
modify the %-iUage ideal of Mrs. Hanley's position. That she 
should have her father to live with her, clad in purple and fine 
linen, sediilously waited upon, and enthroned in a Bath chair that 
must have cost as much as the family landau which Lady Isabel 
had just obtained from the Eepository in Baker Street, certainly 
suppUed an element of respectability which the world of Lowcombe 
had not looked for from Mrs. Hanley. After all, people are not kites, 
and though they may tear and maul a reputation, they are not alto- 
gether without tenderness for the sorrows of life. 

" I must say that young woman's attention to her father is one of 
the most touching things I have seen for a long time," said Mrs. 
Donovan, " and if I could have stopped my ponies yesterday morn- 
ing I really think I should have pulled up and introduced myself to 
her. But there, you all know what my ponies are." 

" Yes, j\Irs. Donovan, and we all know what your driving is," 
answered Lady Isabel, who had been a famous whip in her youth, 
and who, belonging to a house that had always been poor liked to 
show her contempt for the newly rich. 

" I really think some of us ought to call," pursued Mrs. Donovan, 
ignoring the venomed shaft. " I hear that Mr. Hanley has been a 
good deal away from home lately." 

'•Has he? The begiiuiiiig of the end, I should think. Why 
don't you call, Mrs. Donovan? You are broader-minded than 
I am, and you have no daughters. It can't do you any harm to 
take notice of Mrs. Hanley ; and as she doesn't know a soul iu the 
place, she may be glad to make your acquaintance." 

" I don't thinki she could do your daughters any harm, Lady 
Isabel. She is so much younger than your girls ; and she looks 
tUie picture of innocence*" 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 257 

"Yes, and I have seen just such pictures in the Burlington 
Arcade, when I have been to my glover's rather too late in the 
afternoon," retorted Lady Isabel. " You can please yourself, Mrs. 
Donovan ; but I never visit people whose antecedents I don't know. 
The fact that this young person behaves nicely to her imbecile father 
is no evidence of her respectabiHty. Young persons of that class have 
their feeUngs as well as we have, and I dare say they are fonder of their 
own people than we are, knowing themselves shut out of society." 

After this Mrs. Donovan gave up all idea of patronising Mrs. 
Hanley. However she might hug herself with the thought of her 
investments and dividends, and the power which unlimited cash can 
give, she knew that she was not strong enough to fly in the face of 
Lowcombe society. It was for her to follow, and not to lead, if she 
wanted to be admitted to that inner circle, where the society was not 
suburban and rich, but county and arrogantly poor. These county 
people boasted of their dearth in these latter days, as if it were a 
distinction ; since poverty, for the most part, meant land, while 
wealth not unfrequently meant trade. Mrs. Donovan wanted to 
stand well with that choice circle which had its ramifications in the 
Peerage, and talked of Dukes and Duchesses as if they were men 
and women : so she did not call upon Mrs. Hanley ; and thus 
Hester was spared that favour which would have been the last worst 
drop in her cup of bitterness. 

New Year's Eve is apt to be a saddening season, even in the 
family circle, for however cheerily we may pretend to take it with 
carpet dances and hand-shaking, or Pickwickian jovialities in the 
way of innocent games and strong drinks, there lurks deep in every 
heart the consciousness of another stage passed in the journev that 
leads down hill to that inn we all wot of, where there is always 
room for everybody : and deep in every heart there is the memory 
of some one whom the year has taken away, and not all Time's 
years can bring back. But what of New Year's Eve to the lonelv 
girl who sat beside the fire through the long evening, surrounded with 
the books she loved, but finding scanty solace even in their company ! 

Such lonely evenbgs are by no means rare in the lives of wedded 
wives, at those seasons when the indisputable rights of gim or rod 
keep the sportsman far away from the home fireside, or when the 
sacred demands of business constrain the mercantile man to over- 
eat himself in a city hall : but Hester could not forget that she was 
sitting alone to listen for the ringing of the midnight joy-bells, only 
because she was an unwedded wife. Had the bond been sanctified 
her natural place would have been with her husband at Helmsleigh 



s 



258 Gerard ; or, 

Rectory on this vigil, which was a memorable one for the Eector'a 
household, since it was the eve of his only daughter's wedding. How 
natural that she, Lilian's friend, should have been by Lilian's side to- 
night ! How indispensable her presence had she been Lilian's sister- 
in-law ! Tears sprang to her aching eyelids at the humiliating thought 
that she could now be no more counted worthy to enter that home 
where she had once been treated almost as a daughter of the house. 

She remembered a New Year's Eve spent in that house, ever so 
many years ago, as it seemed to-night, looking back from a life in 
which all things were changed, across a dreary interval of misfortune 
and poverty. She remembered how kind every one had been to 
her, fulloftenderest compassion for her motherless youth, her burden 
of household cares. How bright and happy the rambling old Eectory 
had looked, all the sitting-rooms gaily lighted with a miscellaneous 
collection of lamps and candles ; the old-fashioned Christmas decora- 
tions of holly and evergreen in hall and dining-room ; the friendly 
evening party, with a good deal of music and a little waltzing, 
started in an impromptu fashion by the youthful master of the 
neighbouring hounds ; the inevitable recitation from the curate ot 
an adjoining parish — long, dismal, intended to make people's flesh 
creep, but only making the aged yawn and the young laugh. She and 
Lilian had sat together in a comer by the piano, struggling against 
the tendency to girlish giggling, full of their own small jokes and depre- 
ciation of the youth of the neighbourhood, both of them heart-whole 
and happy — happy as children are, without thought of the mon'ow. 

She had played, fresh from her German master's tuition, full of 
the Leipsic school and its traditions, had played and had been 
praised and made much of. Her plajang was a thing of the past 
almost, for in the days of her poverty she had been without a piano, 
and in her new hfe she had given up all her hours to being Gerard's 
companion, and he, who cared httle for classical music, had given her 
no encouragement to regain lost ground by severe practice. The 
pretty little cottage-piano stood in its corner unopened, and now that it 
might have been to her as a companion and friend, she feared to play 
lest the sounds should disturb her father in his rooms on the upperfloor. 

The night was clear and frosty, but not severely cold, and at mid- 
night she wrapped a thick shawl about her and went out on the la\vn, 
and walked slowly up and down by the starlit river, listening for 
the bells of Lowcombe Church. They broke out upon the stillness 
with a sudden burst of sound that thrUled her, like the spontaneous 
cry of some Titanic soul rejoicing in some great, nameless good to 
mankind. She could not divide herself from the gladness in that 
burst of music, as the sounds came pealing along the water. The 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 259 

starlight, the darkness of the opposite woods, the faint ripple of the 
quiet river, the universal hush of calmest winter night through 
which the joy-peal broke, were all too much for her sad, remorseful 
heart. She felt that somewhere beyond this narrow scene of life 
there must be a home and a refuge for lives such as hers, somewhere 
a friendship and a pity gi-eater than human pity, which could under- 
stand, and pardon, and shelter. If it were not so, the story that 
church bells, and running rivers, and winds that blow over wood- 
land and moimtain, and cathedral organs had been telling was a lying 
message to mankind, civihsed and uncivihsed, in all the ages that 
•were gone ; and that fond hope deep in the heart of man, barbarian 
or civilised, bond or free, was the cruellest hallucination that was 
ever engendered in that automatic instrument which we call mind. 

She walked for nearly an hour in the wintry garden, and that 
quiet commune with Nature, that unconscious absorption of the 
beauty of the winter landscape gave her much more comfort than 
she had been able to find in Tennyson or Browning, since even " In 
Memoriam," which was to her as a second gospel, had failed to-night 
to wean her from the thought of her own sorrows. 

"I wonder if he has remembered me, once, just for one moment 
in all this evening ? " she asked herself, as she rose from her knees. 

Even when most shaken in her old faith by the new learning she 
had never altogether lost the old habit of prayer. Her prayers 
might be vague and indistinct, the outpouring of a sorrowful mind, 
to what God she knew not, but for her prayer was a necessity of life. 

She was sitting at her lonely breakfast next morning in Gerard's 
study, when something happened which cheered her with the know- 
ledge that she was not altogether forgotten. 

There came the soimd of wheels on the crisp gravel drive, a loud 
ring at the door, and then the country-bred parlour-maid bounced 
into the room with an excited air, exclaiming, " If you please, 
ma'am, here's a brougham ! " 

" What do you mean, Pearson? It's the doctor, I suppose ! " 

" No, no, ma'am. It's a new carriage, coachman, and all com- 
plete — for you ! Here's a letter the coachman brought. I forgot 
the salver, I was that taken aback ; " and the damsel handed a letter. 

It was from Gerard. 

"Dearest, — " Since you are to spend the winter in the country 
you must have a carriage, so I send you a brougham by way of New 
Year's gift. It has been built specially for country work, and will 
be none the worse for much service in the nistic lanes you are so 



26o Gerard ; or, 

fond of. The coachman has admirable testimonials from previous 
employers, so you may trust him fully as head of your stable. I 
have told him to engage a stable-help, and to put all things on a 
proper footing. The horse was bought for me by a man who is a 
far better judge of the species than I am. 

" Be happy, my love, in the begmning of the year, and in many 
a happy year to come. — Your ever faithful, G. H. 

" P.S.— Just starting for Devonshire." 

The letter made her almost happy, almost, but not quite, for kind 
as his words were they gave her no assurance of his love ; they did 
not tell her that his thoughts and his heart's desire would be with 
her at the beginning of the year, the first year which had begun 
since they two had loved each other. For him it was much less of 
an epoch than it was for her, and he had easily reconciled himself 
to the idea of their separation. 

The gift vouched for his kindly thought of her, and was welcome 
on that account, but she felt that any addition to her luxuries only 
accentuated the dubiousness of her position. 

She went out to look at the brougham, a delightful carriage, small, 
neat, with dark, subdued colouring, and a perfection of comfort and 
elegance which in no way appealed to the eye of the casual observer ; 
such a brougham as a leading light of the House of Commons might 
choose to convey him quickly and quietly to and from the scene of 
his triumphs, every detail sober, simple, costly only because of its 
perfection. The horse was a fine up-standing brown, a patrician 
among horses, carrying his head as if he were proud of it, doing his 
work as if hardly conscious of doing it, in the fulness of his power ; 
an amiable horse, too, for he stooped his lordly head and gave his 
velvet nose freely to the caressing touch of Hester's hand. 

The coachman was middle-aged, and, to all appearance, the pink 
of respectability. 

" I have only driven from the station, ma'am," he said. " If 
you'd like to drive this afternoon the horse won't hurt." 

*' No, no. I'll let him rest to-day, if you please." 

" Quite tlie lady," thought the coachman, as he drove round to 
his unexplored stables, pleased with a mistress who showed no im- 
patience to be sitting in her new carriage and running her new horse 
off his legs; evidently a lady to whom a brougham was no novelty. 

He had been pleased with his master, who had told him to order 
whatever was required in the way of stable gear, and to engage a 
helper, all in the easy way which marks a master who does not look 
too closely into details. 



The Woi'ld, tlie Flesh, and the Devil. 261 

Hester was comforted by this mark of Gerard's regard. For a 
millionaire to give such gifts might have but Httle significance, yet 
the gift implied thoughtfulness, and it made her happier to know 
that he had thought of her. 

She drove in her new carriage on the following day, drove to 
Reading and made her httle purchases, all as modestly chosen as if 
she had been the wife of a curate. Gerard had given her a pocket- 
book stufied with bank-notes before he left for Devonshire, but no 
plethora of money could induce her to extravagant expenditure. 
Her winter gowns, made by a Reading taUor, were of a Quaker-Uke 
plainness ; her dinner-gown of soft grey silk was the simplest thing 
in home dinner-gowns. The long seal-skin coat which Gerard had 
insisted upon ordering for her at the beginning of the winter was 
the only expensive garment she possessed. Just at this season she 
had to make purchases which were not for her own use, purchases 
of finest lawn and softest cambric, and pattern garments of daintiest 
form, which gave employment to her skilful fingers in the long 
lonely evenings of that first week in the New Year. 

Gerard wrote to her of his sister's wedding in briefest phrases. 
Must he not also have remembered that had all been well she should 
have had her place, and an honoured place, at that family gathermg, 
and that there must be a sting in anything he might -nTite of the 
ceremony and of his people ? 

" They left for the Land's End, to spend a fortnight in a little inn 
on the edge of the Atlantic — a cmious fancy for a winter honey- 
moon. I wanted them to go to Naples and Sorrento — of course at 
my expense — but John Cumberland would not hear of a journey 
that would keep him away from his parish for more than a fortnight, 
and my sister's mind is his mind, so they are clambering about upon 
the rocks, watching the shags and the gulls, and listening to the 
roaring of the breakers — utterly happy, I beheve, in each other's 
society, as you and I have been beside the dripping fringes of the 
willows. For my own part, I can hardly imagine a January honey- 
moon. Love needs sunshine and long summer days." 

That last sentence haunted Hester all through the evening, as 
she bent over her work at her little table in the nook by the fire. 
Was love ended with a single summer? Could she and Gerard 
ever renew the happmess of last summer? Alas, no; for last 
summer he could hardly bear to be absent from her for an hour ; 
and of late he had shown her only too plainly that he could live 
without her. It was only natural, perhaps. Who but a romantic 
girl could ever think that any union love ever made could be one 
long honeymoon ? There was no word of returning to the Rosary 



262 Gerard; or, 

in Gerard's last letter. His mother insisted on his staying for another 
week at the Rectory, and he had been unable to refuse her. He hoped 
that Hester was taking long drives, getting herself plenty of new 
books at Miss Langley's delightful library, and keeping in good health 
and spirits. It is so easy for the absent to entertain these hopes. 

Hester did not take many drives, though the roads were in 
good condition, and the coachman came every morning for orders. 
She preferred her quiet walks beside her father's Bath chair ; for 
these at least left the satisfaction of duty done, and the brougham, 
with all its elegant luxuriousness, only oppressed her with a keener 
sense of her position. She felt ashamed of driving past the Low- 
combe people in their shabbier carriages, felt almost as if she 
could hear the hard things they said of her. 

She thought often of kindly Mr. Gilstone and his vain endeavour 
to set things right for her, and she longed for the sound of his 
friendly voice in her solitude. But she had no hope that he would 
ever enter the Rosaiy again. She would have gladly gone to his 
church on the first Sunday of her solitude, had she been brave 
enough to face the curious eyes of his congregation; but on the 
second Sunday she felt so utterly desolate that her heart yearned 
to the church as the one shelter outside her lonely home where 
she could enter and feel herself unforbidden, so in the evening 
she ordered her brougham and drove to Lowcombe, telling her 
coachman to stop at the entrance to the viDage, and to wait for 
her at the same spot when the service was over. She did not want 
to make herself conspicuous at the lych gate by the flaming lamps 
of her carriage, or the beauty of her horse. She hoped to creep 
quietly to a seat in one of the aisles ; but it happened that the 
pew opener was the son of the butcher who served the Eosary, and 
was eager to pay all possible honour to a good customer. With 
this mtent he conducted her to a seat near the pulpit, the seat of 
the august Mr. Muschatt himself, a seat cushioned and foot-stooled 
in purple cloth, where the local landowner sat like Dives, and was 
reported never to drop more than sixpence into the bag, and only 
to drop sixpence when he had failed in obtaining a threepenny 
piece. Here, in the sight of the evening congregation, which in- 
cluded most of the gentilities of Liwcombe, where the evening service 
was popular, Hester sat in her sealskin coat and neat httle sealskin 
toque and heard the evening lessons, and here she knelt with meekly 
bent head and joined in the prayers which had once been inter- 
woven with her daily life, but which now had a doubly impressive 
sound after a silence of half a year ; while the old hymn tunes, and 
most of all the words of that evening hymn she had loved so well — 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 263 

"Abide with me, fast falls the eventide," moved her almost to tears. 
Indeed, it was only the consciousness of the lamplight on her face, 
and perhaps, too, the apprehension of fmtive glances from unkind 
eyes, that nerved her to the eflfoit which restrained her tears. 

The Rector's evening sermon was simple and practical, one of those 
plain-speaking, homely addresses which he loved to give of an 
evening — sermons in which he spoke to his flock as to a httle family 
with whose needs and sorrows and failings he was familiar. 
Hester met his glance more than once as she looked up at him, 
and there were words, comforting words, in his sermon which she 
fancied were meant especially for her, words to lighten the sinner's 
despair and to promise the dawn of hope. 

She went home happier for that village service, and having once 
confronted the curious looks of the congi'egation she determined to 
go to church regularly. The church was open to sinners as well as 
saints, to Magdalen as well as to Martha and Mary, to the doubter 
as well as to the believer ; and now that Gerard was no longer 
by to assail the creed in which she had been reared, with all the 
pessimist's latest arguments, her heart went back into the old paths, 
and the Rock of Ages was once again a shelter and a support. 

There was a daily service at Lowcombe, and to this service 
Hester went every morning during Gerard's absence. It was the 
one break in her life, an hoirr of quiet prayer and contemplation 
which tranquillised her mind, and sustained her through the 
monotonous duties of the day. 

Gerard reappeared after more than a fortnight's absence. His 
native air had not improved his health. He looked haggard and 
weary, and owned that he had been bored in the famity circle. 

" My father and mother are model people of their kind," he said, 
" and everything in their house goes by clockwork ; but so does 
life in a gaol, and I confess that I found the Rectory about as 
lively as Portland. There was nothing to do, and nothing to think 
about. If I had been a sportsman I should have been out with the 
hounds. Rural life provides nothing for men who are not sportsmen. 
Such malshapen beings are hardly believed in by the rural mind." 

Hester saw with poignant grief that after a few days at the 
Rosary Gerard was as bored as he had been in Devonshire. He 
did not hint at this weariness, but the signs of ermui were too 
obvious. He suggested inviting Justin Jermyn, but Hester had 
grown keenly sensitive of late, and she was so evidently distressed at 
the mention of Mr. Jermj-n, that Gerard did not press the question. 

" I feel as if there is a covert sneer in almost every word Mr. 
Jermyn speaks to me," she said. 



264 Gerard; or^ 

" Indeed, my dear child, you wrong him. Jermyn is a laughing 
philosopher, and holds all things lightly. I envy him that lightness 
as the happiest gift Nature can bestow. For him, to exist means 
to be amused. He lives only for the present hour, has a happy 
knack of utihsing his friends, and does not know the meaning of 
thought or sorrow." 

Gerard went to London soon after this little discussion about 
Jermyn, and was away till the end of the week, and from thence- 
forward he appeared at the Rosary only for two or three days at 
a time, coming at shorter or longer intervals, his periods of absence 
lengthening as London began to fill. In Loudon Jermyn was 
much with him, his umbra, his second self. Hester discovered 
this fact from his conversation, in which Jermyn's name continually 
recurred. He spoke of the man always with the same scornful 
lightness, as of a man for whom he had no real afl'ection, but the 
man's society had become a necessity to him. 

"Does he hve upon me? " he said once, when Hester gently 
suggested that Mr. Jermyn must be something of a sponge, " well, 
yes, I suppose he does — upon me among other friends — upon me 
perhaps more than any other friend. You remember how Lord 
Bacon used to let servants and followers help themselves to his 
money, while he sat at his desk and wrote, seemingly unobservant. 
Bacon could not afford to do that kind of thmg — his income 
wouldn't stand it — but Jermyn is my only follower, and I can 
afford to let him profit by my existence. He does not sponge 
or borrow my money. He only wins it. I am fond of piquet, and 
when we are alone he and I play every night. He is by far the 
better player, an exceptional player indeed, and I dare say his 
winnings are good enough to keep him in pocket money — while I 
hardly feel myself any poorer by what I lose. If you would spend 
a little more, Hettie, I should be all the better satisfied." 

"You are only too generous," she said, %\'ith a sigh. '"I have 
everything in the world that I want — and I have been more ex- 
travagant lately. Your bank notes seem to slip through my fingers." 

" That is what they were meant for. I'll send you another 
parcel from London to-morrow." 

" No, no, please do not. I have plenty of money, nearly three hun- 
dred pounds. But are you really going back to town to-morrow ? " 

" Really, dear. It is a case of necessity. !My lungs won't stand 
this river-side atmosphere. Why don't you think better of my 
suggestion, Hester, and let me find another home for your father, 
lie could be well provided for, and you would be free to travel 
vdth me. Dr. South would think me mad if I were to spend 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 265 

February and March in the valley of the Thames — and even you 
would hardly wish me to run so gi'eat a risk." 

" Even I. Oh, Gerard, as if your life were more precious to any 
one in this world than it is to me." 

" Prove your regard for me, then. Let me arrange at once about 
your father — there are plenty of respectable households in which he 
could be placed under medical care — and come to Italy with me." 

" No," she sighed, "that is what I should love to do, but I have 
made up my mind. "While my father lives I will do my best to 
make his Hfe happy. It is the only atonement I can make " 

Her tears finished the sentence. Gerard rose impatiently, and 
began to walk about the room. 

" You can hardly expect me to sacrifice my life to your exag- 
gerated ideas of duty," he said. " The best part of the world is 
untrodden ground for me, and I live in an age which has minimised 
the fatigue and difficulty of travelling. A man may go round the 
world now more easily than he went from London to Paris a hundred 
years ago, and I have means to make the uttermost expenditure a 
legitimate outlay. And you would have me wither under such a sky 
as that " — he poiuted to the grey fog that veiled garden and river, 
and blotted out the opposite shore — " and restrict my movements to 
jogging backwards and forwards between London and this house." 

"I would have you do nothing, Gerard, that you do not Hke, 
nothing that can possibly injure your health. If it is best for you to 
go to the South, go there without an hour's needless delay. I will try 
to make the best of life while you are away, and you will come back 
to me in the summer, won't you, Gerard, if you are not tired of me? " 

" Tired of you. You know that I am not. Don't I entreat you 
to go with me ? It is only your whims and exaggerated notions I 
am tired of." 

This conversation occurred in February, and it may be that the 
dull, depressmg February weather, the river fog, the Scotch mist, 
the sodden grass and dripping shrubs, and dark, leafless branches of 
beech and elm, counted for something in Gerard's angry impatience. 
He went back to London on the following day, and he talked of 
starting for Italy, nay, indeed, made all his plans for departure, and 
then at the last altered his mind and stayed in town. 

He reappeared at the Rosary at the end of the week, and it was 
a shock to him to find Nicholas Davenport installed by the drawing- 
room fire. There had been a gradual improvement in his condition 
since Christmas, and the doctor had suggested his being carried 
downstairs in his invalid chair of an afternoon, thinking that the 
change of surroundings might have a beneficial influence upon his 



266 Ge7^a7'd ; or, 

mental state. His mind had certainly been brighter. He had 
taken more heed of Hester's presence, and had talked to her 
rationally, though without memory, frequently repeating the same 
speeches, and asking the same questions over and over again. 

His presence beside the hearth made the house odious to Gerard, 
■who saw in that bent and shrunken form the image of death. He 
retreated at once to the study, where Hester found him standing 
beside the fire in a gloomy reverie. 

" I had no hope of your coming to-day," she said deprecatingly, 
" or I would not have had my father brought down to the drawing- 
room. I'm afraid it hurts you to see him there." 

" It does, Hester. The very consciousness of his presence in the 
house has always been a horror to me. Perhaps it is because my 
own life hangs upon so thin a thread that I hate to see the image 
of death — and that hving death of imbecility is death's worst form. 
Sometimes I think I shall die that way myself." 

She soothed him, and argued away his fears about himself, and 
promised that her father's presence should not again be inflicted 
upon him, come when he might to the Rosary. She would remember 
her divided duty, and she would take care that the home which he 
had created should be made happy for him. 

" It is your house," she said. " I ought to remember that." 

" There is no yours nor mine, Hettie," he answered kindly. " All 
I possess of this world's gear is at your service ; but I am full of 
fancies, and your father's presence chiUs my soul." 

He had come to the Rosary on Saturday afternoon, meaning to 
stay tUl Monday, and then go back to London and reconsider his 
migration to the South. He had been somewhat disheartened by 
being told at his club that there was snow in Naples, and that 
people were leaving Rome in disgust at the Arctic cold. These 
evil rumours, together with his yearning to see Hester once more, 
had delayed his departure. He had been feeling very iU aU the 
week, and he told himself he must lose no time in getting to a 
balmier climate, wherever it was to be found. 

He did not return to town on Monday. He was shivering and 
depressed all through Sunday, to Hester's extreme anxiety, and on 
Sunday night he jnelded to her entreaties, and allowed her to send 
for Mr. Mivor, who found all the symptoms of limg trouble. . The 
trouble declared itself before IMonday night as acute inflammation 
of the lungs, comphcated by a feeble heart ; and for three weeks the 
patient hung between life and death, tenderly and devotedly nursed 
by Hester, who rested neither night nor day, and accepted only 
indispensable aid from the hospital nurse who had been sent for at 



The Woi'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 267 

the beginning of the attack. When Gerard was able to go down to 
the drawing-room as a convalescent, he was hardly whiter or more 
shadowy-looking than Hester herself. He was not ungrateful. He 
knew the devotion that had been given to him, knew that in those 
long nights of pain and semi-delirium one gentle face had always 
watched beside his bed ; yet after the first few days of convalescence 
an eager desire for change of surroundings took possession of him. 
That niness, coming upon him suddenlj-, like the grip of demoniac 
claws fastening upon lungs and heart, had given him a terrible scare. 
He had been told that he had not a good life ; but not since his child- 
hood had he felt the paralysing power of acute disease. Never perhaps 
untU now had he realisedthe frailty of the thread which held all heknew 
of or believed in — this little life and its pleasures. In his new terror 
he was feverishly eager to get to a better climate, to Italy, to Ceylon, 
to India, anywhere to escape the bitter treacheries of English weather. 

Jermyn came down to see him, at his earnest desire. Jermyn 
played piquet with him in the long March evenings, and amused 
him with the news of the town ; but even this did not lessen his 
hoiTor of the house that held Nicholas Davenport, or his ever-present 
terror of a relapse. He arranged the details of his jomiiey with 
JermjTi, who knew exactly what kind of weather they were having 
along the Western Eiviera. 

" You will find summer by the Mediterranean," he said ; " March 
and April are the most delicious months on that sunny shore. 
Nature is lovehest there just when all the smart people have left for 
Paris or London. Leave everjiJiing to me and your valet, and all 
you wiU have to do when your conscientious little medical man here 
permits you to move, wUl be to take your seat in the train de luxe. 
I am going Southward for Easter myself, and I'll be your travelling 
companion, if you Hke." 

"K I like? I should be miserable alone. You will go as my 
guest, of course." 

" As you please," replied Jermyn, shrugging his shoulders. " One 
does not stand upon punctUio with a milhonaire on a matter of 
pounds, shillings, and pence. I hope to earn my travelling expenses by 
being useful to you. Does Mi-s. Hanley go with you to the South ? " 

" No," Gerard answered shortly. 

Mr. Jermyn went up to town next day to see Gerard's valet, and to 
give all insti-uctions for the journey. He came back in time for dinner. 

" Mrs. Hanley shuns me," he said, on this second occasion, he 
and Gerard having dined alone on both evenings. " I hope I have 
not offended her." 

" She likes to be with her father." 



268 Gerard ; or, 

" But surely some one told me that the old gentleman goes to bed at 
eight o'clock. She can hardly be wanted in his room after that hour.'' 

" Perhaps not, but she may hke to be there," answered Gerard, 
and then changed the conversation abmptly. " How is your friend 
the painter getting on with his house ? " 

" Admirably. I beheve it will be finished in two years, which is 
only a year and a quarter beyond the time specified. His contract with 
the builder was for two thousand five hundred, and I fancy, in spite of 
all his alterations and improvements on the original design, he will get 
off for six or seven thousand. He finds his boat too cold a residence at 
this time of year, and he is staying at the Inn, where he puts me up.'' 

" I am sorry we have no room for you here " 

" Don't mention it. I doubt whether ]\Irs. Hanley would like to have 
me on the premises even were there half-a-dozen bachelor rooms. I'm 
afraid I am no favourite of hers. It is a curious thing that while the 
ladies I meet at the Petimia and the Small Hours are positively de- 
voted to me I am imfortunate in provoking the prejudices of the 
purely domestic mind — and Mrs. Hanley is so thoroughly domestic." 

" She is the most devoted and unselfish of women. Her only 
faults are virtues in excess," answered Gerard, gi-avely. 

His convalescence lasted a week longer before the village doctor 
gave him leave to start for the Riviera, where the weather reports 
w^ere now of the fairest. His illness had been so carefully watched 
by Mr. Mivor that he had implicit beUef in that gentleman's wisdom, 
and listened without impatience to the counsel which the doctor 
gave him on his last visit, counsel which in some points echoed Dr. 
South's advice, given some months earlier. 

Illness is apt to be selfish, and in his long illness that self-love 
which had grown and strengthened ever since the sudden change in 
his fortune, took a stronger growth, and in the long days of con- 
valescence, weak, depressed, and self-absorbed, he had brooded over 
Hester's refusal to be his companion in his Southern wanderings, 
her choice of duty to her father rather than duty to him. Angered 
by her opposition, he began to doubt even her love, or to count that 
love a poor and paltry thing ; the love that can consider another 
rather than the beloved one ; the love so closely allied with remorse 
that it almost ceases to be love. 

A long letter from Edith Champion, which reached him diuing 
his last days at the Kosar}', seemed to accentuate Hester's coldness. 
Edith's letter was glowing with hopeful love. Her year of widow- 
hood was drawing towards its close. June would soon be here, and 
then, if he still cared for her, their new life might begin. He had 
never been absent from her thoughts during her exile. The winter 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 269 

had seemed very long, but the dawn of spring meant the dawn of 
hope. I 

The letter claimed him, and, in his present mood, he had no desire to 
dispute that claim. The pale, sweet face which looked at him in mute 
agony on that last March morning had lost its power to move him. 

" You will come back to me, Gerard ? " she entreated, clinging to 
him in a farewell embrace. 

" Perhaps ! Who knows if I may live long enough to see you 
and England again ? You have made your choice, Hester. The 
future must take care of itself. In any case your welfare is provided 
for. I have taken care of all material matters — for you and yours." 

That was all. There was no tender allusion to that new obligation 
which the summer was to bring upon Hester and upon him. His 
heart was full of a sullen anger against this woman whose sacrifice 
just stopped short of blind obedience. 

Her heart turned to ice at this cold reply. Womanly pride, the 
pride of a deeply injured woman, rose up against him at this last 
moment. Her arms dropped from his neck. The wan cheek that 
had been pressed against his was turned away. She followed him 
silently into the hall, and stood by in silence while he was being 
helped on with his fur-lined coat, and saw him step into the snug 
little brougham, with the dumb, tearless agony of a leaden despair. He 
looked out of the carriage window and waved her a smiling good-bye. 
The smile hurt her more than his harshest words could have done. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

"sing while he may, man hath no long delight." 

Gerard and his companion started for the South in the train de 
luxe that left Charing Cross early in the forenoon. A sunlit passage 
across the Channel, a day of cigar-smoking and newspaper-reading, 
and brief intermittent slumbers, into which they sank, not from 
sleepiness, but from sheer weariness and vacuity : an evening at 
piquet, played under the vacillating light of a couple of reading- 
lamps, while the train rushed southward : and then a long weary 
night in which the same rushing sound, the same incessant oscillation, 
mixed itself with every dream, while now and again the sudden 
thunder of a passing train startled the dreamer with some strange 
image conjured instantaneously out of the distorted dream-world. 

Gerard's spirits had been variable all through the long day and 
evening, now breaking out into gaiety, anon sinking into-^loom. 
His strongest feeling was a sense of relief. He had escaped from 



2/0 Gerard ; or, 

a life that had beea gi'adually growing abhorrent to him. He had 
escaped from the house of melancholy, from the atmosphere of 
undying remorse. Most of all, he had escaped from the presence 
of Nicholas Davenport — that living spectre, the dismal simulacrum 
of humanity, the perpetual reminder of old age, disease, and death ; 
the mindless automaton whose vicinity made life hideous. 

" If duty is more to her than love she must find happiness in 
doing her duty," he said to himself again and again, while his 
thoughts set themselves to the rhythmical beat of the engine. " She 
must find happiness — doing her duty ! " With every thud those 
words repeated themselves. 

He had done his duty by her, he told himself. He had given 
her the option, and she had decided. Her lover or her father? 
She had chosen to stand by the earlier tie. Obstinately, needlessly, 
in opposition to all reason, she had sacrificed herself to the father 
whose only claim upon her love at the best had been a father's 
name. She had chosen. 

Yes, he had done his duty. Hurried although his flight from 
England had been, eager as he was to plunge into new scenes, to 
wash the bitter taste of memory out of his mouth with the waters 
of novelty, he had taken every step necessary to ensure Hester 
Davenport's material prosperity. His last act before leaving London 
had been to execute a deed of trust which provided for her. She 
would be a rich woman aU the days of her life — a very rich woman 
— able to enjoy all that wealth can offer of splendour, luxurj', 
variety, the world's esteem, long after he would be inurned in 
bronze or marble, a handful of mindless dust. She had known the 
sharp sting of poverty all through the ftxirest years of her youth, 
and would be the better able to appreciate the privileges of wealth. 
He told himself that he could afford to think of her without one 
remorseful pang ; yet he did not so think in the enforced vacuity 
of long sleepless hours, cramped, with aching limbs, in his narrow 
berth. The pathetic face, the imploring eyes, haunted him. 

He thought of the infinite consolations of her life — a life not 
measured, like his miserable existence, within the narrow limits of 
a year or two. If she was alone now, alone with that sad phantasm 
of mindless humanity, she would have a new companion before 
very long — the sweetest, tenderest companion woman's life can 
know — the child who in every attribute recalls all that was best and 
dearest in the father. 

" If I had stayed with her to the end our parting must have come 
all the same," he told himself, " and why should I sacrifice my poor 
remnant of life to tlic horror of an association that agonises me ? 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 271 

One little year, perhaps, at the best. Only a year. Am I a wretch 
because I try to make the most of that last year ? " 

He looked at Justin Jermyn, sleeping on the other side of the 
carriage, the image of placid repose ; his breathmg as regular as an 
infant's ; his complexion dehcately fair in the lamplight ; his parted 
lips rosy as the lips of a child. 

" Tliere is enjoyment of hfe," mused Gerard, " and yet I don't 
believe that man ever had an unselfish thought, or would hesitate 
at the commission of the darkest crime, if crime could make life 
pleasanter to him." 

He remembered how Jermyn had pushed him on to his alliance 
with Hester, and how Jermyn had urged him to sever the tie 
directly it became irksome — a man who perhaps had done very 
little evil on his own account, who had neither robbed the widow 
and orphan nor murdered his friend, but who went about the world 
giving evil advice lightly, with a graceful carelessness, a perpetual 
happy-go-lucky air which minimised the wrongfulness in every trans- 
action, and made so airy a jest of virtue that vice seemed non-existent. 
And, after all, when a man has filed down his beliefs to absolute 
materialism, when he says of that microcosm, himself, " Thou art as 
the beasts that perish," it becomes very hard to define vice and virtue. 
In the grey dawn Gerard envied his Mentor that childlike 
slumber, that perfect complacency and content with life. And 
then what physical advantages the man had ! Lungs sound as a 
bell ; muscles which no exercise could tire — on the river, in the 
gymnasium, on tennis-court or golf-links alike inimitable. Yes, 
that was the glory of life — a mind without sense of good and evil ; 
a body endowed with health and strength, and with the promise of 
long life in every organ and every limb. Better than millions; 
better than that plethora of gold which seemed a mockery to the 
man whose days were numbered. 

Gerard pondered on the months that he had wasted in the cottage 
by the river, living as a man might live whose income was under 
a thousand a year ; he who had the spending of nearly a hundred 
thousand in the twelve months if he chose ; he whose duty it was, 
knowing himself doomed to early death, to riot in gold, to wallow 
in the waters of Pactolus, to melt pearls of price in his wine, to 
achieve some mad extravagance — some folly which should be re- 
membered when he was dust — almost every day of his life. 

For fame he had done nothing. Granted that he had furnished 
a house which in every detail testified to lavish expenditure and 
superior taste ; but do not the wool-growers of Australia and the 
petroleum merchants of America as much as that ? Clever as he 



272 Gerard; or, 

fancied himself, he had made no new departure. He had given 
recherche luncheons, and had succeeded in having his hospitality 
spoken of as " the Hillersdon table d'hote " by the vi'itlings of his 
circle, mostly, perhaps, by those whom he did not entertain. He 
had bought some of the costliest books from famous collections 
lately brought to the hammer. He had patronised some rising 
artists, eccentrics of the French and Belgian schools ; had bought 
statues, and had given exorbitant sums for carriage horses which 
he rarely used, and for a Park hack which he rode so seldom that 
every ride had been a narrow escape of sudden death. And in 
works of beneficence — what was the record there ? He had given 
freely, given carelessly and unquestioningly, given to all who asked, 
tossing the letters of appeal from Charities or from individuals to 
his secretary, with the order to send a cheque " for whatever you 
think fit." It may be that gold distributed thus unthinkingly had 
done as much harm as it had done good, had fed the professional 
begging-letter writer, and encouraged the drunken hanger-on of 
Fortune. He had devoted his wealth to no great work for the 
public good. He had dedicated no recreation-gi-ound, no park or 
lawn, to the joyless dwellers in the seething slums. He had built 
no wholesome and airy habitations to replace the loathsome dens 
of Bethnal Green or Bermondsey. No; he had done very little 
with his money ; he, who when penniless had pondered so often on 
the potentiahties of wealth, and had wondered at the sorry use the 
average millionaire makes of his golden opportunities ! He, Gerard 
Hillersdon, man of the world, thinker, dreamer, fully abreast with 
all the newest ideas, felt that his career up to this point had been 
a failure. And the time that remained to him for achievement was 
BO short ! He was oppressed by a sense of hurry, an eagerness to 
enjoy, which kept his blood at fever-point. How slow was this 
so-called express : how uncomfortable this train de luxe ! 

While the glamour of a passionate love had lasted that tranquil 
existence by the river had been perfect happiness ; but now, by a 
strange perversity of mind, he looked back upon the placid monotony 
of those days with a feeling that was akin to disgust. It was not 
that he could contemplate Hester's image without tenderness ; but 
between the fair young face and liis picture of the Rosary there 
came an image of horror — the face and form of the man whose 
shattered brain was in some wise his work. He forgot all that he 
had enjoyed of exquisite bliss — the dual joys of a supreme and 
unselfish love — in the nearer memory of that one hideous night, in 
the painful associations of that after time when Hester's heart had 
been divided between love and duty. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 273 

No train could travel fast enough to carry him away from those 
memories. They were at Monte Carlo in the golden light of after- 
noon. Only yesterday they had breakfasted at the London 
M^tropole in the grey gloom of an English March. To-day they 
were taking afternoon-tea on a wide balcony overlooking the sunlit 
Mediterranean, Monaco's promontory with its twin towers, and all 
the theatrical gardens and turrets, stucco pinnacles, flower-decked 
terraces, steps and balustrades of Monte Carlo. 

They were to stay here for a few days, as long as the place 
amused them, and then tliej^ were to go to Florence, rapidlj' or by 
easy stages, as the spirit moved them. Jermyn's spirits were too 
equable to be brightened by the change from London greyness to 
this fairy-land of Europe, but he flung back his head with a gay 
laugh and sniffed the balmy air witli sensuous appreciation. 

" What a sensible man your doctor was to send you to the 
South," he exclaimed, " and what a sensible man you were to invite 
me to be your travelling companion ! " 

" I should have been bored to death if I had come alone," 
answered Gerard laughingly, " and I really think you are the one 
man whose society suits me best — though I have the most despicable 
opmion of your morals." 

" My dear Hillersdon, I never set up for having any morals. I 
don't know what morals mean. There are certain things that I 
wouldn't do, because no man can do them and hold his head up in 
society. I wouldn't cheat at cards, for instance, or open another 
man's letter. Between men there is a kind of honesty which must 
be observed, or society couldn't hold together. Between men and 
women : well, I think you must have found out long before you 
met me that the weaker sex is outside the laws of honour, and that 
a man who would rather perish than sauter la coupe at whist or 
introduce an extraneous king at ecart6 thinks it a bagatelle to trick 
a woman out of her reputation. Yet, after all, in the net result of 
life I believe women have the best of it ; and for every one whom 
we lead astraj' there are two who fatten upon our destruction, a fact 
which you may see exemplified in this charming place." 

They were at a brand new liotel, a white walled palace built on 
a height commanding sea and shore. La Condamine lay in a sunny 
hollow below them, a concatenation of white villas and red roofs 
and narrow gardens, balconies and trellises brimming over with 
roses, the rich purple masses of the Bougainvilliers conspicuous 
above wall and gable, hedges of pink and scarlet geranium, an 
avalanche of azaleas pouring down the hill to the lapis blue of the 
sea. The hotel was so new that it seemed to have been built and 



2 74 Gerard ; or, 

furnished expressly for Mr. Hillersdon's occupation. The courtly 
manager assured him that the suite of rooms reserved for him had 
never been inhabited. They were on the second floor, and consisted 
of ante-room, saloon, and dining-room, bedrooms and bathroom, all 
upholstered in the same silvery greys and greens, with artistic 
touches of warmer colour here and there, to accentuate the prevail- 
ing coolness. A marble loggia extended the whole length of the 
windows, and in this balmy climate the loggia was the most 
delightful spot in which to live. 

Gerard and his companion strolled down to the casino after their 
eight-o'clock dinner. The season was nearly over, and there was 
ample space for mo^^ng about in the gaudy mauresque rooms, but 
the players gathered thickly round the tables, under the vivid light 
concentrated on the green cloth ; and there were plenty of people 
in the trente et quarante room, a higher class perhaps than are to be 
found in the height of the season, when the idle and the curious 
surge in and out and peer and watch and whisper, to the annoyance 
of the players who mean business and nothing else. 

For Gerard since his accession to fortune play had but little 
charm. While he was still poor he had hankered after the feverish 
delights of the baccarat table, and had frequented clubs where play 
ran high, venturing small stakes, which when smallest were more 
than he could afford to lose — but now that loss or gain signified 
nothing to him he needed some stimulus from without to give a 
flavour to play. 

lie found that stimulus for the moment in the very atmosphere 
of the trente et quarante room, where some of the handsomest 
women and some of the quickest witted men in Paris crowded 
round the tables and elbowed him as he leant forward to deposit 
his stakes. He played very carelessly, sometimes letting his win- 
nings lie on the table till they were trebled and quadrupled before the 
inexorable rake swept them away, sometimes putting aside his gains 
in a little heap of gold and notes, which some of those lovelj' Parisian 
eyes watched covetously. He Avas more interested in the people at 
the table than in the game. It surprised him to see how many of 
these people exchanged greetings with Justin Jermyn, who had 
elbowed his way to the front, and was playing with small stakes in 
u light casual way. His careless nods, his sharp sudden hand- 
shakes indicated considerable intimacy with those of the players by 
whom he was greeted. The beautiful women smiled at him with an 
air of patronage, and he was equally patronising to the keen-eyed men. 
A little ripple of low laughter, a flutter of wliispers went round the 
table, quieted only liy tlio authoritntive hush of the dealer. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 275 

Gerard, after playing lauguidlj' for half an hour, pocketed his 
little heap of gold — the notes having been swept away by the 
inexorable rake, and gave himself up to observation of the players. 
How beautiful some of those faces were — and most of them how 
wacked ! Here the bright black eyes and tilted nose of the soubrette 
type, there a Roman profile, with eyes and hair like Erebus, and 
there again a Saxon beauty with milky skin, pale eyes, and yellow 
hair. They all hailed from Paris these syrens, Lutetia being the 
paradise and happy hunting-gi'ound of their kind ; but they were of 
various nationalities, including a hard-eyed and hard-headed English- 
woman, with a plain face and a perfect figure, in a close-fitting 
tailor gown, severe and uncompromising amongst the sumptuous 
demi-toilettes of sister syrens. This lady was reputed to be richer 
than any other of the feminine gamesters, and was further reported 
to have refused her hand in marriage to a Bi'itish Duke. But there 
was one face at the trente et quarante table which interested Gerard 
Hillersdon more than all this cosmopolitan beauty, the one only 
face which wore the typical expression of the gambler, a face 
haggard with intensity, pinched and worn with inward fever. It 
was the face of a small elderly woman, who sat at the end of the 
table near the dealer, and who from time to time consulted a 
perforated card, upon which she marked the progress of the game ; 
a small face, with delicate aquiline features, thin lips, silvered hair, 
and dark eyes that seemed too large for the pinched face. There 
was that in the careless attire, the shabby little black lace hat, of a 
fashion of four or five years ago, the Spanish lace shawl hanging in 
slovenly folds over one shoulder, ragged and rusty with long wear, 
the greasy black silk gown, which told of womanhood that had 
done with womanly graces, and had sacrificed to one darling vice 
all the small follies, caprices, and extravagances of the sex. Gerard 
became more interested in this one player than in the fortunes of 
the table, so absorbed indeed that Jerrayn had to touch his shoulder 
twice before he could attract liis attention. 

"It is close upon eleven o'clock," said Jermyn, "and the rooms 
shut at eleven. AVhat are we to do with the rest of the evening? 
There are plenty of people here whom I know. Shall I invite a 
few of them, the most amusing, to your rooms ? " 

" By all means. Ask- them to supper. Let us make believe 
that the world is nearly two centuries younger, that we are living 
in the Regency, and that PhiHp of Orleans is our boon companion. 
Your follies cannot be too foolish nor your dissipation too wild for 
my humour. Let this Rock be our Brocken, and invite all tlie 
handsome witches of your acquaintance." 



276 Gerard ; or, 

" What ! even the poor pretty girl with the red mouse in her 
mouth ? And Marguerite ; what of Marguerite ? " 

Gerard winced at the allusion. 

" My Marguerite has chosen her destiny," he said. " If she were 
like Goethe's Gretchen she woidd have chosen differently. Love 
would have been all in all with her." 

Gerard strolled out of the rooms alone, while Jermyn passed 
quickly and quietly from group to group and briefly whispered his 
invitations, wliich were accepted with a nod or a smile. The people 
to whom these invitations were given belonged to a class which 
might adopt the motto of a certain great border clan for their own : 
Je suis pret ! Always ready for the chances of the moment, always 
ready to be entertained at anybody else's expense, be the entertainer 
a Watts or a Pullinger, ripe for Portland, or a typical vulgarian of 
the Hibernian- American t\-pe ; always ready for ortolans and cham- 
pagne, for turtle and whitebait, for a saturnalia on a house-boat at 
Henlej", or an orgie at the Continental. Always ready : ready as 
the vultures are ready, for dead hero or dead dog, when the scent of 
the carrion is wafted to them from afar oft" on the wings of the wind. 

Gerard strolled slowly, very slowly, up the hill to the big brand 
new caravansary where the electric light gave something of that 
elfin brilliancy which suggests the halls of Eblis. Slowly as he 
walked up that brief ascent, carefully graduated by artful windmgs 
for the footsteps of the weak-lunged, he was breathless when he 
arrived in the vestibule, and had to rest for a few minutes before he 
could give his orders to the manager. 

"A supper — all that there is of the best — for, say, a party of 
twenty. Do all you can in fifteen minutes. You can give us those 
little green oysters, and plenty of them. Chateau Yquem, Clos 
Vougeot. For champagne, well, Heidsec or G. H. Mumm — but I 
leave the details to you and my friend Mr. Jermyn. Be sure there 
are lights and flowers .in the loggia. And if you can get us any 
music worth hearing so much the better." 

" There are the Neapolitan singers, monsieur ; I dare say we can 
find them." 

" Fanicoli, funicola, I suppose. C^est connu, but it will be better 
than nothing." 

Before the stroke of midnight he was sitting at a supper table 
crowded with roses and azaleas, stephanotis and lihes of the valley, 
and surrounded with the fine flower of the Parisian demi-monde. 
What a fairy ring of bright eyes and jewels as dazzling, of eccentric 
and exquisite toilettes, the very newest colours in fashion's ever- 
changing rainbow ; a general abandonment to the delight of the 



The IVoi'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 277 

hour; not ticious— for even sinners are not always bent on sin — 
but unrestrained ! What light laughter ; what frank, joj'ous jesting ; 
airy sentences which in that particular environment sounded like 
epigrams, but which would seem witless in print ; lightest talk of 
the Paris theatres, the dramas that had succeeded, Heaven knows 
why, the brOHant comedies which had gone out in the foul smoke 
of ridicule, failure, and disappointment ; the intrigues in the great 
world and the half-world ; the undiscovered crimes ; the impending 
disasters ! These careless speakers discussed everything, and decided 
everji;hing, from dynasties to dressmakers. 

Gerard Hillersdon relished that light touch-and-go of the Celtic 
intellect, trained to folly, but folly spiced with wit. He had tried 
pleasure in London, and had foimd it dull and dreary. The ladies 
he met at the Small Hours were mostly so intent upon being ladies 
that they forgot to be amusing. The days were past of that fair 
mauvaise-langue who charmed the peerage, and whose sturdy 
British bon-mots were circulated over ci^nlised Europe, plagiarised 
in Paris, and appropriated in Vieima. He had sought wild gaiety, 
and he had found decent dulness. Here, the spirit of fun was not 
wanting, and the joyous laughter of his guests was loud enough to 
drown the voices of the Neapolitans in the loggia, yea, even the 
twanging of their guitars. And by-and-by the Neapolitans were 
pushed into a corner, and bidden to twang only waltzes, and those 
loveliest women in Paris were revolving in rhythmical movement in 
the arms of the keen, clever men, of no particular profession, who 
constituted their travelling body-guard. Gerard took two or three 
turns with a lovely German girl, with a creamy complexion and 
innocent blue eyes, who had done little more than smile sweetly upon 
the contest of wit and animal spirits, and who was said to have rince 
(Anghce, beggared) one of the wealthiest Jew bankers of Frankfort. 

He could not stand more than those two or three gentle turns to 
a slow three-time waltz, and he sat in the loggia breathless and 
exhausted, while the fair Lottchen tiipped away to her friends and 
told them that it was finished with yonder cretin, who would very 
soon find his way to the Boulanger. 

" En attendant, he has given us a capital supper," replied a lady 
who was called Madme. la Marquise in societj', but plain Jeanuette 
Foy in all legal documents. " I hope he will leave us money for 
mourning. Moi,je me trouve ravissante en noir !'''' 

Gerard enjoyed the restful solitude of the loggia for half an hour, 
the fun within having waxed fast and furious, and his guests being 
somewhat oblivious of his existence. Yes, it was a wild whirl of 
mirthful abandonment which verily suggested the witches' danco 



278 Gerard ; or, 

upon the haunted hills. There were little spurts of malignity now 
and again from the lips of beauty, which were like the red mouse 
that dropped out of the rosy girlish mouth. Gerard watched this 
pandemonium from the cool seclusion of the loggia, while the 
Neapolitans played languidly, and even dozed over their guitars, 
with an occasional automatic twang. Yes, it was like a witches' 
Sabbath, or like a dance of wicked spirits in the halls of Eblis. 
Thank Heaven, in that gaudy, many-coloured crowd, amidst the 
flashing of diamonds and waving of plumed fans, and flutter of silk 
and lace, there was no ghastly warning vision of his absent love, 
that Hester whom he had loved so fondly and left so heartlessl}'. 

He pictured her in the wind-swept garden by the river, where the 
March skies were grey and gloomy, and the hyacinths were shiver- 
ing in the nipping air. Why was she not with him here ? Why 
was she not sitting by his side, they two alone, looking out over the 
sleeping town, the colony of white villas in the crescent-shaped 
hollow, the old, old steep-roofed houses and twin-towered cathedral, 
yonder on the jutting rock ? Why were they not together in the star- 
shine of the balmy night ; here, as they had been on the starlit river 
last year, all in all to each other, knowing no duty, no religion, no law 
but to adore each other ? It was her own fault that they were parted. 
Had she been with him, these ribald revellers would not have been 
there. He would have found enough happiness in her sweet society. 
He had never changed to her. It was she who had changed to him. 

He was glad to have escaped from that atmosphere of remorse, 
glad to be on his way to his first love, glad most of all to be in this 
fairer world, by the side of the sea of deathless memories, glad to be 
under these brighter stars. Even foUy was pleasant to him as a 
relief from too much thought. When his new acquaintances of the 
night remembered his existence so far as to come out into the loggia 
to take leave, in the faint roseate glow of approaching day, he 
invited the fairest and wittiest among them to breakfast with him. 

"Not to-morrow, but to-day," lie said; "Jermyn must devise 
new pleasures for us — picnics, excursions, by sea or mountahi. I 
mean my brief stay here to be all holiday— if you will help me." 

He held tlie fair Bavarian's hand in his, while the bright black 
eyes and white teeth of the pug-nosed Comtesse Iligolboche smiled 
down upon him. 

" I had booked my place in the train de luxe for to-morrow," said 
Eigolbochc, " but I'll change the date, and stay here as long as you do. 
We'll all help you to conjugate the verb rujoler. Eujolons, rvjohz." 

Tlie other voices took up the word, and the revellers departed to 
a chorus of " Higolons, rigolez." 



TJie IVorld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 279 

Mr. Jermyn was equal to the occasion. He ordered dejeuners 
and dinners. He elicited the talents of the chef, he taxed the re- 
sources of the well-found hotel. He kept the telegi'aph wires 
employed between Monte Carlo and Nice, Marseilles, and Paris, and 
choicest dainties were expressed along the line. Alternating with 
messages that involved life and health, fortune, all that is gravest 
in the destiny of man, flew orders for Perigord pies or monster 
lobsters, Chasselas grapes, Alpine strawbemes, oysters, ortolans, 
quails. Everything JermjTi touched was successful, and that week 
at Monte Carlo was a triumph of gourmandise and unld amusement. 
The hills echoed with the songs of the revellers ; the sea waves 
danced to the music of their laughter as they sailed round the point 
of Rocque Brune, or lay becalmed in the sheltered Gulf of Ospeda- 
letti. The weather was exquisite — that perfect atmosphere of 
spring-time on the Riviera which makes one forget that those lovely 
shores have ever been \'isited by mistral and sirocco, rain and sleet. 
It was earthquake weather, Justin Jermyn said, remembering how 
fair had been that Febniary which was startled by an appalling 
shock of earthquake. He told them that this glad, beautiful shore 
was preparing itself for just such another convulsion, but the joyous 
band laughed him to scorn. 

" K a great pit were to open in this mountain and swallow us all 
alive I should not care," said Rigolboche, emptying her glass with a 
piquant turn of her wrist and small neat hand. '* J'ai vecu. I have 
lived my life." 

Hillersdon sighed. How lightly this woman thought of life, while 
he counted each vanishing hour, and clung with longing desire to 
the remnant of his days, and could not resign himself to the in- 
evitable end, could not bring himself to say, " I have lived, and 
am content to die." 

Lijttchen, the Bavarian girl, had attached herself to him with 
devotion since that first waltz when she had spoken of him with such 
brutal scorn. She had gone from scorn to pity, and pity had 
deepened into love. In all their revellings she tried to be near him, 
hung upon his footsteps, sought his society. Her soft, clinging ways 
touched his heart, but that heart was cold to all her charms. She 
was no more to him than a pretty child by the roadside, holding up 
a handful of flowers as his carriage drove by. 

Rigolboche, too, the reckless and brilliant Rigolboche, who spent 
more money and who owed more than any lady of her set, tried all 
the keenest weapons of her wit upon the detix-fois millionaire — des 
millions sterling, bien entendu — but the wit of the Parisienne had 
no more power to fascinate Gerard Hillersdon than the blonde love- 



28o Gerard ; or, 

liness of the Bavarian. It may be that he had outlived the power 
of loving; that in his intensified anxiety for his own hfe all other per- 
sonalities had become indifferent. If he was looking forward eagerly 
to reunion with Edith Champion it was because to that reunion he 
hoped to recover the freshness of his vanished youth, to become 
once again hopeful and full of energy, as in the days that were gone. 

The spirits which Jermyn had assembled served to amuse the 
man who felt himself doomed, and that was much. That circle of 
bright faces shut out the dark images which were wont to press 
round him when he was alone. That festal companionship made 
thought impossible ; and when the jight of revelry ended, mostly on 
the edge of day, Gerard Hillersdon was so thoroughly wearied that 
he slept more soundly than he had done for along time. 

There was pleasure, too, in the knowledge that he was spending 
his money. The more lavish the entertainment, the more extrava- 
gant the feast, the better was he pleased. Earely had the boatmen 
of la Condamine fared as they fared with him. It was his delight 
to see them rioting on the surplus of the banquet, devouring quails at 
a mouthful, swilling the costliest wines, digging their rude clasp-knives 
into pies that had come by express train from Chevet. He flung 
gold pieces about with the lavish bounty of an Indian Rajah. The 
waiters at the hotel fawned upon him as if he had been an emperor ; 
the manager addressed him in hushed accents as if he had been a god. 

He spent an hour at the rooms every evening. He liked to see 
his syrens play, and he supplied them with the funds for their 
ventures at the trente et quarante tables. For his own part he 
played no more after the first evening. The game did not interest 
him, but the jjlayers did. So he moved about quietly, or stood in 
the background, and watched the faces in the lamplight. 

The little elderly woman with the dark haggard eyes was generally 
in the same place near the dealer, her bonnet always badly put on and 
carelessly tied, her lean, ungloved hands not conspicuously clean. 
Gerard derived a sinister pleasure from his observations of this 
woman. She was a study in morbid anatomy. All the forces of her 
being were concentrated upon the card-table. There were nights 
when she was radiant, glorified, as if some supernal lamp were burning 
behind the dull olive complexion, and flashing through the dark Italian 
eyes. There were other nights when her face had a marble fixity, which 
would have been like death had not the unceasing movement of the 
anxious eyes made that marble mask more awful than death. Gerard 
found after a time that this woman was conscious of being observed, 
that, in spite of the concentration of all her faculties upon the gaming 
tablCj she had a restlessness under scrutiny, a nervous apprehension 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 281 

which showed itself from time to time in birdlike glances in his 
direction, or in an angry movement of the head or shoulders. He 
tried, perceiving this, to disguise his interest, and watched her 
furtively, hoping to escape observation. He had noted that on the 
thin black cord on which her pince-nez hung she had one of those 
horn-shaped corals which the Italian peasant deems a charm against 
the evil eye, and he had noted how as he passed near her on two 
or three occasions she had clutched this talisman in her skinny 
fingers, automatically, as if moved by an instinct of self-defence. 

It was his last night at Monte Carlo, and the eve of a water picnic 
which was to signalise his departure, and was to be the bouquet in 
the series of entertainments organised by Justin Jermyn. He had 
spent half an hour at a jeweller's on the hiU, and had chosen farewell 
gifts for the syrens, includmg a superb diamond hoop for the slim round 
wrist of Lbttchen, in whose eyes he had seen tears of real tenderness 
yesterday when a violent access of his cough had left him speechless 
and exhausted. For every tear he would give her a diamond of 
purest water, and yet would think her tears poorly recompensed. 

He went down to the rooms for the last time that season. Would 
he ever see those rooms again, he wondered, at any season ? Were 
not all seasons fast closing for him : or would science, aided by 
wealth, patch up these feeble lungs of his, and spin out the frail 
thread of existence yet a few more years in the summer lands of 
earth ? He would go anywhere ; to the South Seas, to the West 
Indies, to the Himalayas ; anywhere only to live ; and he told him- 
self that Edith Champion would deem no land a place of exile where 
they two could hve together. She had no other ties, no superior 
claim of duty, or exaggerated filial love. Her sacrifice to her 
husband's manes and to society's good opinion had been made. 
Three-quarters of her year of widowhood were spent, and when she 
saw what need he had of a wife's protecting companionship, she 
would doubtless waive the remnant of that ceremonial year, and 
marry him off-hand, at the Florentine Legation. 

The thought of her was in his mind to-night. He had enjoyed his 
week of folly ; the sound of the jester's bells had been sweet in his ear; 
but ho was weary of that silvery jingle, and he looked forward with 
pleasure to the sober luxuries and splendours of his life with Edith. 

He was in treaty, through Justin Jermyn, for the Jersey Lily, 
one of the finest yachts at Nice, and with this j'acht he and his 
^\-ife would make a tour of all the fairest ports of the Mediterranean 
—lingering or hastening as caprice prompted. 

The shabby little woman was at her post as usual, and one furtive 



282 Gerard ; or, 

glance at her face told Gerard that luck had been against her. She 
Jiad the rigid, death-like look he knew so well. He stood on the 
(jpposite side of the table watching her — across the burly shoulders 
of an English bookmaker, returning from a race-meeting in the 
Roman Campagna, and loud in his denunciation of the pari-mutuel 
sj'stem. Her bad luck continued. Stake after stake — ventiures which 
had dwindled to the minimum morsel of gold — were swept away by 
the inexorable rake, until she sat with clasped hands, watching and 
not playing ; too well known an habituee to be asked to make way 
for the players. The officials knew her ways, and that after sitting 
Btatue-Uke during two or three deals she would rise slowly, as one 
awakening from a painful dream, and walk quietly away — to reappear 
the following night with money obtained none knew how. 

Gerard felt in his breast pocket for a bundle of notes, and went 
round the table towards the back of the lady's chair, intending to 
push the money quietly into her hand, and to vanish before she 
had recovered from lier surprise at his action ; but his mtention 
was frustrated, for as his hand brushed against her shoulder she 
started up suddenly as if she had been stung, and turned upon him 
with eyes that burnt like coals of fire in her pallid face. The 
rapidity of her movement and that burning gaze disconcerted him. 
He drew back in confusion. 

The lady advanced upon him as he retreated, until they were 
at some distance from the tables, away from the glare of the lamps. 
Then she stopped, fixing him with her fiery eyes. 

" You do not appear to be an ardent gambler, monsieur," she said. 

" No, madame, I am not a gambler. Trente et quarante is utterly 
without interest for me." 

" Why then do you haunt these rooms? " 

" I come to observe others, and to be amused." 

" Amused by evil passions which you do not share, amused as 
devils are amused with the vices and passions of humanity. Do 
you not know that yom- presence here is odious, that your glances 
bring misfortune wherever they rest ? " 

" I do not know why that should be. I have no malicious inten- 
tion. I am only a looker-on." 

" So is death a looker-on at the game of life, knowing that sooner 
or later he must win. Your presence here is fatal, for there is 
death in your face ; and since this room was not built for idle 
observers, but for business-like players, you will be doing everybody 
a favour by absenting yourself in future. I am assured that I have 
expressed the desire of the whole assembly." 

She made him a sweeping curtsey, drew her ragged shawl about 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 28 



o 



her shoulders, and passed him on her way to the door. He stood 
■with his packet of notes still in his hand, looking after her dumbly. 
Yet one more voice to remind him of approaching doom. 

CHAPTER XXVn. 

"some little sound of uskegarded tears." 

The farewell festival had been arranged by Justin Jennyn with 
especial care. He had secured the Jersey Lily, the yacht for which 
Gerard hankered. Her owner, a rich commercial man, was tired 
of his plaything, and was glad to sell her to a purchaser who did 
not drive a hard bargain. The yacht, a fine sailer, with auxiliary 
steam, was iu full working order, and Gerard's first cruise was to 
be this water picnic. For music Mr. Jermj'n was no longer content 
with itinerant Neapohtans. He had engaged some of the best 
performers at the famous concerts in the Casino. But his gi'eatest 
success was with the floral decorations. In these he had surpassed 
himself, while he had ransacked the Algerian shops on the hill for 
Oriental fabrics, gay \nth. gold and colour, and glittering with morsels 
of looking-glass, to di'ape cabins and poop. 

March was drawing to an end, and the weather was delicious, the 
April summer of the South, weather that would make even the dull 
flats of Essex or Norfolk enchanting, but which over that lovely 
land breathes an intoxicating influence, giving to age the gladness 
of youth, to weakness the pride of strength. 

Lunch was over, and the yacht was lying to in the roadstead of 
Antibes. Some of the more entei-prising of the partj^ had been 
rowed ashore, and had set out on a pilgrimage to the church on the 
height — the church with its curious votive pictures, shoAving the 
Madonna's merciful interposition in all the perils of life, from a 
headlong fall out of a garret window to the overturning of a bicycle. 
Less active and exploring spirits were content to loll upon the deck, 
where low chairs and luxm-ious cushions invited slumberous ease. 
Fans were waving languidly in the golden light of afternoon, as if 
in time to the languid movement of the water fanned by the western 
•wnnd. On one side stretched the long level seafront of Nice, with 
its line of white villas flashing in the sunlight, far off to the rock 
crowned with the hghthouse, and that jutting point which shuts off 
the eastern sky towards Villefranche and St. Jean. 

Gerard was in high spirits. He wanted to drain this cup of 
casual pleasures to the dregs. He wanted to steep himself in the 
loveliness of a coast which he might never look upon again. It 
was bliss only to stand upon the deck as the yacht lay at anchor 



284 Gerard ; or, 

and gaze upon that nol)le range of hills, with varied lights and 
shadows flitting across them, and that fair subtropical Eden in the 
middle distance, where the sapphire sea kissed the low, level shore 
— a smiling land of aloes and palms, orange groves, and grey-green 
olive woods, with here and there white walls and pinnacles gleam- 
ing amidst the green. It was enough of bliss only to breathe such 
an atmosphere and feel the inexpressible beauty of earth. 

" How happy you look to-day ! " said Lottchen, watching the giver 
of the feast, as he leaned against the gimwale, and looked dreamily 
across the harbour to the rugged hill, along whose crest straggles the 
old-world city of Vence. 

They two were alone in the bows, while the rest of the party 
were congregated in a joyous group in the stem, whence there 
came at intervals the deep, grave music of a 'cello, and the plaintive 
singing sound of violins in a serenade by Schubert. Pensive music, 
light laughter, floated towards these two on the summer wind. 
The German gii'l had followed Gerard when he withdrew from the 
noisy herd, leaving the inexhaustible Jermyn as its central figure, 
inspiring and sustaining the general mirth with that joyous laugh 
of his. Lottchen had stolen after Gerard, uninvited ; but he was 
not so ungallant as to let her suppose that she was unwelcome. 

" Yes," he said, " happy, but with only a sensuous happiness — 
the happiness of a well-cared-for cat basking and blinking in the 
sun ; happiness which vanishes at tlie first touch of thought. I am 
basking in the beauty of my Mother Earth, and if I think at all 
my only thought is that it would be sweet to live for ever — soulless, 
mindless, immortal — amidst such scenes as these ; to hve as the 
olives live on the slope of yonder hill, breathing the sweetness of 
this balmy air, feeling the glad warmth of this bounteous sun." 

" It would be very dull after a week or two," said Lottchen, " and 
then what is life without love ? " 

" Life is much more than love. See how utterly happy children 
are in the enjoj'ment of the universe, and they know nothing of 
love — or at least of the passion to which you and I attach that 
name. To my fancy, this world would be perfect if we could be 
immortal and always children. That is the world of the elder gods. 
The deities of the rivers and the mountains, water-nymphs and 
wood-nymphs, what were they all but grown-up children, drunken 
with the sweetness and glory of life ? But for us poor worms, 
whose ever}' breath brings us nearer to the inevitable grave, what 
can this exquisite earth, with its infinite variety of lovehness, he 
but a passing show ? We look, and long for its beauty ; and even 
as we look it fades and melts into the dark. It is lovely still, but 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 285 

we are gone. Some one else will be watching those hills next year, 
some one as young as I am, and, like me, doomed to die in his youth." 

Lbttchen was silent. Tears were streaming do%vn the fair cheek 
when Gerard turned to look at her. 

She was lovely, engaging, sentimental — all that might charm a 
lover : but she left his heart cold as marble. Simply dressed in some soft 
fabric of purest white, and with a little white sailor hat perched on the 
artistic fluffiness of her flaxen hair, she looked the image of innocent 
girlhood, unspotted by the world. A man might easily forget all her 
history in such a moment as this, seeing the tears streaming from 
the large lucid eyes, the tender lips tremulous with emotion. 

" Do not waste your tears or your sympathy upon me, Friiulein," 
Gerard said gently. '' Weep only for the dying who do not grieve 
for themselves. I am utterly selfish, and am consumed by regi-et 
for my own doom." 

"You might live longer, perhaps, if you were more careful of 
yourself," she said. 

"There is no care that I would not take to live. It is only 
because I know the case is hopeless that I have given myself up. 
There is nothing left for me but concentrated pleasures. There 
ouo'ht to be a melted pearl in every glass of wine I drink. And 
you have given me your pity — and pity from you has been sweet." 

" Pity ! " she echoed, with a deep sigh. " Well, call it pity, if 
you Hke." 

He took a little velvet case from his pocket, and opened it in the 
sunlight. It seemed in that first flash of vivid light as if he had 
opened a box of sunshine more brilliant than those rays that danced 
upon the waves and turned the mountain clay to gold. The sun- 
light flashed back from the diamond circlet with rainbow glory, 
rose and emerald, violet, orange, blue. 

•' These diamonds are for your tears, Frliulein. Will you wear 
them sometimes as a souvenir of a dying man ? " 

She held out her arm as he unclasped the diamond circlet. It 
was a lovely arm, fair as alabaster, exquisitely modelled, dazzling 
to look upon as the soft white fabric fell away from it, and arm 
and wTist and tapering hand lay there, beautiful in the sunshine. 
There were those among Mdlle. Charlotte's admirers who declared 
that her arm and hand were her crowning beauty, and nearer the 
perfection of Greek sculpture than any other hand and arm in Paris. 

Gerard clasped the diamond hoop upon the slender WTist, as it 
lav in languid grace upon the gunwale — clasped it without a word, 
and waited with calm indifference for the gush of gratitude which 
usually greets such gifts ; but Lottchen's lips were speechless. She 



286 Gerard; 01% 

let her wrist lie for a minute or so where his fingers had hghtly 
touched it as he clasped the hracelet, and then, with an inarticulate 
cry of grief or rage, she tore the snap asunder, and flung the flashing 
circlet into the sea. 

" Do you think 1 care anything for your diamonds, when you care 
nothing for me ? " she cried, and then ran away to the cabin, which 
had been made into a miniature zenana for Jermyn's bevj' of 
gultanas, and emerged therefrom no more tiU the boat retiuned 
to ]\Ionte Carlo in the moonlight, minus Gerard Hillersdon, who 
landed at Antibes, in order to be in time for the express for Genoa, 
which left Nice before sundo\ra. 

That little outbreak of Lottchen's touched him more than her 
beauty or her tears. " Queen Guinevere in httle," he said to Imnself, 
as he looked after the retreating figure. "I suppose women are 
alike all the world over. Dick Steele best described the sex when 
he called woman ' a beautiful romantic animal.' There is a spice 
of romance in them all — even in the most experienced demi- 
mondaine in Paris. Poor Lijttchen ! " 

He saw her no more, for she was not among those who crowded 
to the side of the yacht to see him drop into the dinghy. Her fair 
hand was not among those which waved him farewell as the row- 
boat moved swiftly towards the shore. 

" A riverdervi next week at Florence," cried Jermyn ; and from 
the quay where he landed Gerard looked back and saw the Fate- 
reader's hssom figure sharply defined against the sk}- as he stood on 
a raised portion of the deck, with the syrens grouped about him. 

It was in the sunset that Gerard bade farevcell to the western 
Riviera, and set his face towards Genoa. Never can that lovely 
sliore look lovelier than just at that season of the year — than just 
at that hour of dying day. Over all the liills there lay tlie reflected 
flush from that crimson glory lingering yonder above the dark ridge 
of the Esterelles; over all tlie gardens, with their purple-red bloom 
of BongainviUiers, their luxury of roses white and^yellow, there 
hung the glamour of sunset ; and over all the eastern sky spread an 
opaline splendour flecked with little rosy cloudlets, which looked 
like winged creatures full of exultant life, higli up in that enchanted 
heaven. By every form of bay and inlet ; by every delicate and 
gracious curve that the seashore can make, by rosy rock and 
shadowy olive wood, by every entrancing change from light to 
colour and from colour to light, the train sped onwards to the dark- 
ness of fortress-crowned Ventimiglia, where there was nearly half an 
uour's weariness and confusion, wliile !Mr. Hillersdou's servant did 



The World, the Flesh, and the Deznl. 287 

battle with the Custom House officers, and transferred his master 
and his master's baggage to the Italian train. Then came a restless 
endeavour to slumber, more fatiguing than absolute wakefulness, and 
finally midnight and Genoa, where the traveller rested for a night. 

He was in Florence on the following afternoon, and the first idea 
with which that city inspired him was that he had left summer 
behind him. Some there are to whom the western Ei\iera is the 
supreme perfection of ItaUan landscape, and to whom all other spots 
seem cold and sombre as compared with that rich loveliness. Some 
there are who think that the chief glory of Italy is wanting when 
they have turned their back upon the Mediterranean, and that all tbat 
history, legend, and the fine arts can yield of interest and beauty is 
tame and dull compared with the magic of that sapphire sea, and 
the romantic variety of those rugged hills which look down upon it. 

Gerard, walking through the streets of Florence on a gi-ey March 
afternoon — March as chill and windy as he had ever known in 
Piccadilly — felt that a glamour had gone out of his hfe, and a 
warmth had left his veins. How dull the houses looked on the 
Lung'arno, palatial no doubt, all that the soul of an architect could 
desire; but are there not palatial houses in Piccadilly and Kensington? 
How grey the river, rushing over its weirs ; how cold the colouring 
of the stone bridge ; how bleak the snow line of the Apennines ! 
Tired as he was after the long journey from Genoa, he had preferred 
to walk to his destination, leaving servant and luggage to be driven to 
the Hotel de la VOle, where his rooms had been engaged for him. 

He had given Mrs. Champion no notice of his arrival. He 
wanted to take her by surprise, to see in her face that he had lost 
nothing of the love wliich was his a year ago. He had had his 
caprice — had given aU that was warmest and best in his natm'e to 
another woman ; and now he wanted to take up the thread of life 
Avhere he had dropped it a year ago, when he followed Hester 
Davenport across St. James' Park, and felt the swift, sudden 
influence of love at first sight. He wanted to love again, in the old, 
reasonable, sober fashion ; he wanted again to feel the mild affection 
which had sustained his interest in Edith Champion during the three 
years of her wedded hfe. 

Her house was on the side of the hiU leading to San Miniato — a 
villa in a delicious garden, where the magnolia buds shone silver- 
white amid the dark glossy leafage, and where broad beds of flame- 
coloured tulips relieved the velvet monotony of the lawn, while a tall 
hedge of pink jieonies shivered in that scathing Florentine wind which 
has not been ill described as an east wind blowing from the west. 

It was a long walk from the station to that verdure-clothed hill 



288 Gerard; or, 

on the southern side of the river, and Gerard was very weary when 
he arrived at the Villa Bel Yisto, which overlooked the Boboli 
Gardens, and all the glory of Cupola and Campanile, far away to 
those fair hills northward of the city. On a sunny day the prospect 
would have cheered him with its beauty ; but under this cold, grey 
British sky even dome and bell-tower lost something of their 
soothing influence, and Gerard regretted the sun-baked slopes above 
^Monaco, where he seemed to have left summer behind him. 

The gates stood wide open, and there were a good many smart 
carriages waiting in the semicircular drive. The hall door was also 
open, while a distinctly British footman aired his idleness on the 
broad flight of marble steps, and looked with supercilious gaze upon 
the opposite hills. Gerard passed into the house uninterrogated, 
and found himself in a vestibule, from which several doors opened. 
The light was dim, the atmosphere warm with the friendly glow of 
a wood fire, and beyond, through half open doors, he heard the 
subdued murmm'ings of voices, mostly feminine, which suddenly 
dropped into silence as he approached, silence broken by the flowing 
phrases of a symphony, and then by a fine baritone attacking the 
fashionable lament — Vorrei morir. A majordomo, tall, handsome, 
and Tuscan, stood near the lofty folding doors, ready to announce 
visitors, and looked interrogatively at Mr. Hillersdon, who waited 
in silence till the end of the song. 

Mrs. Champion was evidently receiving — it might be an afternoon 
party, or perhaps only her " day." Her later letters had told him 
of a few Florentine acquaintances, who dropped in occasionally to 
cheer her solitude ; but he was unprepared for the crowd of well- 
dressed women and distinguished-looking men amidst whom he 
found himself when Tosti's pensive strain had died in a prolonged 
diminuendo, and he allowed the major-domo to announce him. 

The afternoon light shone full upon a window which occupied 
nearly one side of the spacious drawing-room, and in this light 
(xerard saw Edith Champion standing in a group of elegant women 
of various nationalities — herself the handsomest of all, like an 
empress among her ladies of honour. She wore deepest black, but 
the heavy folds of the rich corded silk suggested gi-andeur rather than 
gloom, and the tulle coif, d la Mane Stuart, only gave a piquancy to 
the coronet of plaited hair which rose above her low, broad brow. 

She started at the sound of her lover's name, and hun-ied to 
meet liim. 

" Welcome to Florence," she cried gailj', " though there is no one 
in the world whom I less expected to see. Have you only just come ? " 

" I have been in Florence less than an hour." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 289 

Her hand was iu his, her lips were parted in a pleased smile, but 
as he came into the light of the wide window, he saw her expression 
change suddenly to a look of grieved surprise. He knew only too 
well what that look meant, though she gave no utterance to her 
thoughts. A year ago his friends frequently told him that he looked 
ill ; but of late no one had told him so. He had only read in their 
faces the evil augury which they saw in his face. 

" I have come upon a festive occasion," he said, glancing round 
at the crowd. 

" Oh, it is only my afternoon at home. People are so sociable 
in Florence. I have more people than usual to-day, because I let 
my friends know that Signer Amaldi had promised to sing. May 
I introduce him to you ? No doubt you heard of him in London 
tlie season before last. He makes a sensation wherever he goes." 

She beckoned to a small gentleman with fiery black eyes, and 
a large moustache, who loUed against the gaily draped piano, the 
centre of an admiring gi'oup, and the introduction was made. 

Gerard knew enough Itahan to compliment the singer in his own 
language without any grave offences against gi-ammatical laws, and 
Signer Amaldi replied effusively, protesting that his musical gifts 
were poor things, mere wayside weeds, which he delighted to cast 
imder the feet of the most gracious of English ladies. 

Anon the piano was taken prisoner by a cadaverous German, 
with tawny hair, as closely cropped as if he were a fugitive from 
Portland, and this gentleman expounded Chopin for the next half 
hour, amidst general inattention. The two lOnglish footmen were 
handing tea and chocolate, the women were whispering together 
in corners, and from an adjoining room came the tinkling of silver 
and glass at a hberally suppHed bufiet, at which a good many of 
the guests had congregated. But stiU those Hungarian war cries, 
those funereal wailings, shrieked and crashed, sobbed and sighed 
from the hard-ridden piano, while the German played on for his 
own pleasure and contentment, flinging up head and hands now 
and then in a sudden rapture during a bar of silence, and then 
swooping down upon the black notes like a bird of prey, and firing 
a volley of minor chords that startled the chatterers at the buffet 
and the whisperers in the comers of the salon. 

During this musical interlude Edith and Gerard had time for a 
confidential talk. 

" I hardly expected to find you so gay," he said. 

"Surely you don't call this gaiety— a little music and a few 
pleasant people who have taken pity upon my solitude, and forced 
their acquaintance upon me. Florence is a gloomy place if on© 

o 



290 Gerard ; or, 

does not know people. There is so little to do after one has 
exhausted the galleries, and taken the three or four excursions 
■which are de rigueur. But now you and the spring have come we 
can take all the old excursions together, bask in the sunshine at 
Fiesole,and buy perfumery from the dear old monks at the Certosa. 
I am so glad you have come." 

"And yet you commanded me not to come until your year of 
mourning was ended. You refused to abate a single week." 

'• One is glad sometimes to have one's commands disobeyed. But 
teU me what made you come. "Why did you disobey? " 

" Because my yearning for you was stronger than my obedience. 
I was utterly miserable, and I longed to see you." 

" I am afraid you have been neglecting your health while I have 
been away," she said, looking at him earnestly. 

" I have been aiUng — but I am well now that I am with you. I 
look to you and Italy for healing. I have bought a yacht, and I am 
going to carry you off in it, as soon as the days are fair and long." 

" That will not be till June, when my year of widowhood will be 
over." 

'' I am not going to wait for June. I am not going to wait for May. 
I snap my fingers at Mrs. Gnmdy. If you can give tea-parties you 
can marry me. My days of submission and waiting are over." 

She laughed, and laid her hand gently upon his for a moment, 
and looked at him, and then sighed, while her eyes filled with 
sudden teal's. She rose huiTiedly and went away to talk to people 
who were leaving, and for the nest quarter of an hour she was 
standing near the door bidding her friends good-bye. 

Gerard moved about the rooms restlessly, but discovered no one 
whom he knew. He saw people looking at him with that quick 
furtive air in which good breeding struggle with curiosity. Suddenly 
he found himself in front of a large looking-glass, and saw himself 
from head to foot in the foregrovmd of a group of weU-dressed people, 
the women elegant and graceful, the men trim and well set-up. 

How ghastly he looked, with his cadaverous cheeks and sunken 
eyes, doubtless a natural result of that wild week at ^lonte Carlo ! 
How shabby, too, he to whom taOors' bills were of no consequence, he 
who in the days of his poverty had been the monitor of other young 
men, distinguished for the sober perfection of his toilet. Xow, with 
his clothes hanging slackly upon liis wasted frame, with the dust of 
travel still upon him, he looked an ugly blot upon the splendid 
elegance of Mrs. Champion's drawing-room. He went away hurriedly, 
Blippmg out by the dining-room door, unseen by Edith. He meant 
to have stayed and talked with her when the guests were gone, but 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 2C)i 

a sudden disgust at life and at himself seized him as he contemplated 
his face and figure in the tall Venetian glass ; and the thought of a 
tete-a-tete with his sweetheart was no longer pleasant to him. 

He was with her next morning, hefore luncheon, and on this 
occasion the glass reflected at least a well-dressed man. He had 
taken particular pains with his toilet, and the pale grey complet and 
white silk tie had all the cool freshness of spring, while from the 
chief florist's in the Via Tornabuoni he carried a large nosegay of 
lilies of the valley and niphetos roses, as tribute to his mistress. 

She welcomed him delightedly, and complimented him upon his 
improved appearance. 

" You were really looking ill yesterday," she said ; " a long dusty 
railway journey is so exhausting. This morning you have renewed 
your youth." 

" And I mean to keep young, if I can. Am I over bold if I invite 
myself to your dejeuner? " 

" I should think you very foolish if you waited for me to invite 
you. Come as often and as much as you can. Your knife and fork 
shall be laid for every meal. Mj' sheep-dog will be on duty again 
this afternoon. She has been at Siena with some clerical friends, 
who insisted upon carrying her off to help them with her French 
and Italian — both of which, by the way, are odious." 

" Are sheep-dogs wanted in Florence ? I have been taught to 
think that Florentine society asks no questions." 

" That shows your insular ignorance. Good society in Florence 
is like good society everywhere else." 

" I understand. Severe virtue, tempered by Russian Princesses 
and their cavuliere servente.^'' 

They lunched tete-a-tete, under the protecting eyes of the major- 
domo and the two British footmen, in funereal liveries and powdered 
hair. There was no opportunity for confidential talk, nor did Gerard 
desire anything better than this hght, airy gossip about people they 
knew, and the ways and works of their own particular world, at 
home and on the Continent, from Eoj^altics downwards. He enjoyed 
this light talk. It seemed to him that he had left passion, with its 
accompaniment of sorrow, on the shores of the Thames. To sit by 
the wood fire in Mrs. Champion's salon, playing with her Russian 
poodle, or turning over the newest French and German books, or 
peeping into the dainty little vellum-bound Florentine classics on 
the book-table, while the lady sat by the window and embroidered 
flame-coloured azalias on a ground of sea-green satin, sufllced him. 
He felt restful, and almost happy. He was as much at ease with 
\ns fiancee as if they were old married people. He told her of his 



292 Gerard ; or, 

yacht, and all its luxuries and modem improvements. He talked 
of those sunny Greek isles which they were to visit together. 

" I hope you will order some Greek gowns in your trousseau," he 
said ; " I shall want you to dress like Sappho or Lesbia when we 
are at Cyprus or Corfu." 

" I will wear anything you like, but I think a neat tailor gown 
made of w^hite serge would be smarter and more shipshape than 
chiton or peplum." 

The long afternoon was delightfid to Gerard, and in spite of 
occasional anxious glances at her lover's face, Mrs. Champion 
seemed happy. It was pleasant to talk of that summer tour in the 
Greek Archipelago and the Golden Horn — how they v/ere to go to 
this place or that to avoid undue heat ; how they were to bask in 
the sun so long as his rays were agreeable ; and how, before the 
days shortened again, they were to decide whether they would 
winter in Algiers or in Egypt, or whether it might not please them 
to travel further afield, to Ceylon, for instance, and that strange, 
gorgeous, antique world of Hindostan. There was all the restful 
consciousness of wealth underlying these day-dreams, the knowledge 
that the cost of things could make no difference. 

Mrs. Gresham came buzzing in at tea-time, and after having 
endured her chatter about the Cathedral, the mosaics, the pictures, 
and the table (TLote at Siena — including the wonder of wonders in 
having met Mrs. Eawdon Smith, of Chelmsford, and her daughter — 
for nearly an hour, Gerard took his leave, promising to return next 
day to luncheon, and to drive to Fiesole with Mrs. Champion and 
her cousin in the afternoon, pro\'ided the sun shone, which it had 
not done since his arrival in Florence. 

He went back to his hotel, and dined in the solitude of a spacious 
salon overlooking the river and the Piazza. The candles were 
lighted within, clusters of candles in two tall candelabra, which 
brightened the table, but left the angles of the room in shadow. 
Outside the three large windows the evening was pale and grey, and 
in that soft greyness the lights on the old bridge and all along the 
quays shone golden. 

Gerard, who was seldom able to eat alone, left his meal and went 
over to one of the windows. Ho opened the casement, and stood 
looking out over the marble bridge, and the rushing weir, and listen- 
ing to the evening sounds of Florence, with his elbows resting on 
tlie red velvet cushion which covered the sill. First came the 
tattoo, and the sound of soldiers marching in the piazza, the trumpet- 
call repeated and then dying away in the distance ; and then the 
sonorous bell of the church of All Saints filled the air, calling the 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 293 

faithful to an evening service. It was Holy Week, and there were 
services daily and nightly in the church yonder— lighted altars, 
tapers innumerable, throngs of worshippers. 

The bell ceased after a while ; and there was no sound but the 
water rushing over the weir, or occasional footsteps across the 
empty square. Then the bell pealed out again, slow, solemn, 
funereal, and from a cloister beside the church issued the funeral 
train in all its Florentine awfulness — hooded monks, flaming torches, 
darkl}'- shrouded bier. Gerard shut the casement with angiy sudden- 
ness, and went back to the deserted dinner-table. He had dismissed 
all ser^nce. The wine flasks and untasted desert alone remained in 
the light of the clustering candles. 

The solitude within, the dismal tolling of the bell without, the 
heavy colouring of the dimly lighted room, weighed upon his spirits. 
He took up his hat and went out. The streets would be infinitely 
more agreeable than that spacious emptiness within four walls. 

The streets looked gay and bright in spite of Holy Week. Lighted 
shop windows, people passing to and fro ; far better this than the 
shadows of an empty room. There was neither opera nor theatre 
open, or he would have sought distraction of that kind. Great 
flaming posters announced various performances of the lowest music- 
hall type, and strictly British. From these he recoiled. He passed 
the lighted portico of a fashionable club, but did not test its hospitality. 
He turned out of a broad street into a narrow one — a short cut to the 
Piazza Santa Maria Novella. A flare of yellow light filled the further 
end of the street. Something festal doubtless in defiance of Lent. 

No, not festal. Again the black cowls, the flaming torches, the 
darkly shrouded bier, and suddenly from Santa Maria yonder the slow 
and solemn bell. He turned on his heel, retraced his steps quicklv, 
emerged into the bright broad street he had just left, only to meet 
another procession. Again the cowls, the torches, and the bier. 

Florence was alive with funerals. There was nothing doing in 
the city, it seemed to him, but the burial of the dead. These 
funerals creeping through the night, mysterious under that uncertain 
flare of the torches, made death more awful. He hun-ied away 
towards the river, overtook an empty fly, and told the man to drive 
him to Mrs. Champion's villa, as iast as a Florentine horse would 
go. He felt a need of human companionship, of a warm, loving 
heart beating against his own, his own which seemed cold and dead 
as the hearts of those quiet sleepers who were being carried througli 
the streets to-niglit. 

" I am not fit to be alone," he told himself, as the light vehicle 
rattled over the bridge to the Porta Roraana. '• I am full of vague 



294 Gcj'ard ; or, 

apprehensions, lilie a child that has been frightened by his nurse. 
What is that strange fear of children, I wonder, that innate horror 
of something unexplained, indescribable ? What but the hereditary 
dread of death, the infinite horror handed down from generation to 
generation, a fear which precedes knowledge, an instinct which ante- 
dates sense. In spite of Locke and all his school, there is one 
innate idea, if only one, and that is the fear of death. The wolf, 
the bear, the black man of the nurse's story, are all different images 
of that one unthinkable form." 

He was ashamed of his own weakness, which had been so shaken 
by the passing of funerals in which he had no interest ; but that 
tolling bell and those cowled monks had filled him with gloomy 
fancies. He thought of the plague-stricken city of the fourteenth 
century, and how Death held his court here while a few miles 
away in the garden in Doccia's dell light-hearted ladies hstened to 
stories that have become part and parcel of the world's poesy, and 
then the song which he had heard yesterday in Mrs. Champion's 
drawing-room recurred to him — 

" ' Vorrei morir ' quando tramonta il sole, 
Quando sui prato dormon le viole, 
Lieta farebbe a Dio Talma ritorno, 
A prlmavera e sui morir del giorno." 

Alas, and alas ! would death be any sweeter to him because of 
a lovely sunset, or a woodland starred with primroses and banks 
purple with sweet-scented violets? What to him was spring or 
winter if he must die ? Whether his last breath went forth on the 
wings of the storm, like Cromwell's and Napoleon's, or whether 
his fading eyes turned their last look upon the placid loveliness of 
a summer evening in a pastoral country, could matter nothing to 
him. Death meant the end — and death was unspeakably cruel. 

Mrs. Champion and her cousin were sauntering in the garden 
after dinner, in the light of the Easter moon, very tired of each 
other's society, and even of the garden. Every life has these dim 
evening hours, when there seems to bo nothing to live for. 

" How good of you ! " cried Edith, recognising her lover in tho 
moonlight. 

There was a fountain in a shallow marble basin sending up its 
waters from the shadow of surrounding foliage into the silvery light, 
and near the fountain a broad marble bench with crimson cushions 
spread upon it, where Mrs. Champion was wont to sit. She seated 
herself on this bench to-night, and, after a few words of common- 
place, Gerard took his place at her side, wiiile Mrs. Gresham discreetly 
returned to the drawing-room, the poodle, and a Tauchnitz novel. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 295 

'■'You did not expect to see me so soon again, did you, Edith?" 

" I did not expect — no — but I am so much the more glad." 

" I coiild not live without you, I felt an aching wish to be with 
some one who loves me — to feel that I have still some hold upon 
warm human life." 

And then he told her about the three funerals in the streets of 
Florence. 

'• Is it often so ? " he asked. " Does Florence swarm with 
funerals ? " 

" My dear Gerard," she exclaimed laughingly. " Three ! For a 
city of two hundred thousand inhabitants ! Does that mean much? 
It is only the torchlight and the Brothers .of the Misericordia that 
impressed you. How superior to am-thing one sees in England ! 
So mediaeval ! so paintable ! But don't let us talk of funerals." 

" No, indeed ! I am here to talk of something widely different- 
I want to talk of a wedding — our wedding, Edith. "^Tien is it to be ? " 

"Next June, if you hke," she answered quietly. 

" But I do not like. June is ages away. Who knows if we may 
live to June. The monks may be carrying us through the dark 
narrow sti-eets in the flare of their torches before June. I want you 
to marry me to-morrow " 

" Gerard, in Holy Week ! " 

" What do I care for Holy Week ? But if you care, let us be 
married on Easter Monday. We can start for Spezia after the 
ceremony, and dine on board my yacht, in the loveliest harbour in 
Europe. We can watch yonder moon shining on the ghostly 
whiteness of the Carrara mountains, whiter, more picturesque, than 
those snow-peaked Apennines." 

" So soon ! " 

"And why not soon?" he urged impatiently. "Edith, have I 
not waited long enough ? Did I not consume my soul in three long 
years of waiting ? Have I not wasted the best years of my youth 
in silken dalliance, and frittered away any talents I ever possessed 
upon the idlest of love-letters, in wliich I was forbidden to talk of 
love ? Edith, I have been your slave — give me something for my 
service before it is too late ! " 

" You are such a despondent lover," she said, with a forced laugh. 

" Despondent, no ; but I feel the need of your love. I feel that 
I am isolated, that I cannot live without some stronger nature than 
my own to lean upon, and that your character can supply all that 
is wanting in mine. We ought to be happy, Edith. We have 
youth, wealth, freedom, all the elements of happiness." 

" Yes," she answered, with a faint sigh, " we ought to be happy." 



296 Gerard ; or, 

" Let it be Monday, tlien. I will arrange all details." 
" Easter Monday ! What a vulgar day for a wedding ! " 
" Is it vulgar ? No matter, our marriage will be performed so 
quietly that hardly any one will know anything about it till they 
Bee the announcement in the Times^ 

" Well, it must be as you like. You have been very good and 
devoted to me in all these years, and I don't think I shall be 
wanting in respect to my poor James, if I consent to marry you in 
AprU instead of June, though I dare say my sisters and people will 
talk. And as for my trousseau, I have plenty of gowns that will 
do well enough for your yacht. You must take me to Palestine, 
Gerard. I have always longed to see the Holy Land." 

"You shall go wherever you like. You shall be captain and 
commander of the Jersey Lily,^'' he answered, bending down to 
kiss the beautiful hand that moved in slow measure, waving a 
feather fan. " She shall sail wherever you order her." 

They went into the house after this, and found Rosa Gresham 
yawning over her novel, and the poodle yawning on his bearskin 
rug. Nothing could have been less romantic than this final wooing ; 
and if Gerard had not been too self-absorbed to observe keenly, he 
must have been struck by the contrast between !Mrs. Champion's 
manner to-night and in old days in Hertford Street. 

They drove through the dust and shabbiness of the outskirts of 
Florence next day, and up to the hill-top, where Fiesole, the mother 
city, hangs like an eagle's nest against a background of cloudless blue. 

The day was steeped in sunshine and balmiest air, and it was a 
happiness to escape from Lenten Florence, with her solemn bells, to 
this winding road which went cUmbing upward by terraced gardens, 
and cj'press hedges, and banks that glowed with tulips and anemones, 
and fields where the young corn shone tender-green in the sunlight. 

Here, while the horses rested, Mrs. Gresham went to explore the 
cathedral, leaving Edith and Gerard free to climb the steep path 
to the little grove on the top of the hill, where a steep flight of 
rugged stone steps lead up to the Franciscan convent and the church 
of St. Alessandro. Slowly, and very slowly, Gerard mounted that 
stony way, leaning on Edith Champion's arm, with sorely labouring 
breath. He stopped, breathless and exhausted, in front of an open 
shop, where an old man was mending shoes, who at once laid down 
his work, and brought out a chair for the tired Englishman. 
Edith entreated him to go no further, tried to persuade him that 
tlie view was quite as fine from the point they had reached as from 
the summit, but ho persisted, and after resting for a few minutes. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 297 

he tossed a five franc piece to the civil cobbler — leaving him over- 
powered at the largeness of the donation — and went labouring up 
the few remaining yards to the dusty little terrace, where a group 
of noisy Germans and a group of equally noisy Americans were 
expatiating upon the panorama in front of them. 

He sank panting upon the rough wooden bench, and Edith sat 
by his side in silence, holding his hand, which was cold and damp. 

A deadly chill crept into her heart as she sat there, hand in 
hand with the man whose life was so soon to be joined with her life. 
The same vague horror had crept over her two days ago, when she 
had stood face to face with her lover in the clear afternoon light, 
and had seen the ravages which less than a year had made in his coun- 
tenance — had seen that which her fear told her was the stamp of death. 



CHAPTER XXVni. 

"COL'LD TWO DAYS LIVE AGAIN OF THAT DEAD YEAE." 

There were necessary delays which postponed the marriage till 
the end of the coming Easter week, and the panic caused by tolling 
bells and torchlight funerals having passed away, Gerard was less 
impatient, willing indeed that events should follow a natural course. 
Yet although the fever of impatience had spent itself, there was no 
looking backward, no remorseful thought of her whose character 
would be blasted for ever by this act of his, or of the unborn child 
whose future he might have shielded from the chances of evil. 
Not once did he contemplate the possibility of obtaining his release 
from Edith Champion, by a full confession of that other tie which 
to her womanly feeling would have been an insuperable bar to their 
marriage. All finer scruples, all the instincts of honour and of pity 
were lost in that tremendous self-love which, seeing life shrinking 
to narrowest limits, was intent on one thing only, to make the most 
of the life that remained to him, the Hfe which was all. 

He rallied considerably after that day at Fiesole, and was equal 
to being taken about from church to church by Edith and her 
eager cousin, who could not have enough of the Florentine churches 
in this sacred season. He met them at the great door of the 
cathedral on Good Friday, after they had satisfied their scruples as 
pious Anglicans by attending a service at the English church — 
service which Rosa denounced as hatefully low — and he went with 
them to hear a litany at the altar under Brunelleschi's dome, a 
solemn and awe-inspiring ftmction, a double semicircle of priests 
and choristers within the marble dado and glass screen that eu- 



29S Gera7'd ; or, 

closed the altar — ^lugubrious chanting unrelieved by the organ — and 
at the close of the service a sudden startling clangour. 

Then the doors open, and priests and acolytes pour out in swift snc- 
cession, priests in rich vestments, violet and gold, scarlet tippets, -white 
fur, black stoles, a motley train, vanishing quickly towards the sacristy. 

And now the crowd troop into the sanctuary, and ascend the 
steps of the altar, Gerard and his companions following, he curious 
only, they deeply impressed by that old-world ceremonial. And 
one by one devout worshippers bend to kiss the jasper slab of the 
altar, on which stands a golden cross, richly jewelled, which con- 
tains a frasrment of that cross whereon the Man of Sorrows died for 
sinful, sorrowing man. 

" I hope it was not wrong of me to do as the others did," said Edith 
presently, as they left the cathedral, her eyes still dim with tears. 

" Wrong ! " ejaculated Rosa, who had performed the Romanistic 
rite with unction. " No, indeed. I look forward to the day when 
we shall have reUcs in our own churches." 

On Holy Saturday there was the spectacular display in front of 
the cathedral, and at this Gerard was constrained to assist, and to 
sit in a sunlit window for nearly an hour, watching the humours of 
the good-tempered crowd in the Piazza, while the great black taber- 
nacle, covered with artificial roses, squibs, and Catherine wheels, 
awaited the sacred flame which was to set all its fireworks explod- 
ing — flame which descended in a lightning flash on the wings of a 
dove from the lamp of the altar within the cathedral, sacred light 
which a pious pilgrim had carried unextinguished from the temple 
in Jerusalem to this Tuscan city. The dove came rushing down 
the invisible guiding wire at the first stroke of noon, and then with 
much talk and laughter the crowd melted out of the Piazza, and the 
daily traffic was resumed, and Mrs. Champion's landau came to the 
door of the umbrella shop over which she had hired her window, 
and they drove away to the Via Tornabuoni, and the house of 
Doney, where luncheon had been ordered and a room engaged for 
them, luncheon at which Mrs. Champion's powdered slave ofiiciated. 
and got in the way of the brisk waiters, to whom his slow and 
solemn movements were an abomination. Only out of England 
could there come such sad and solemn bearing, thought the waiters. 

On Sunday there was High Mass at the Church of S. Maria 
Annunziata, and Gerard and the two ladies had seats under the dome, 
•where Mozart's Twelfth Mass was nobly sung by the best choir in 
Florence, and where priests in vestments of gold and silver, flashing 
with jewels, gorgeous with embroidery, officiated at the high altar; 
priests whose splendid raiment suggested the Priesthood of Egypt, in 



TJic lJ^07'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 299 

the days when Eg}"ptiaa splendour was the crowning magnificence of 
the earth, to be imitated by younger nations, but never to be surpassed. 

The music and the splendour, the strain on eye and ear wearied 
Gerard Hillersdon. He gave a sigh of relief as he took his seat in 
the landau opposite Edith and Mrs. Gresham, who regaled them 
with her raptures about the choir, the voices — that exquisite treble 
— that magnificent bass. She descanted on every number in the 
Mass, being one of those persons who wear every subject to tatters. 

" And now I think we have had enough of churches," said 
Gerard, "and we may spend the rest of our Hves in the sunshine 
tin we sail away to the Greek Archipelago." 

" And till I go back to Suffolk," sighed Mrs. Gresham. " I shall 
be very glad to see my dear good man again ; but, oh, how dismal 
Sandyholme wUl be after Florence ! And you two happy creatures 
will be sailing from island to island, and your life will be one delicious 
dream of summer. Well, I can never be grateful enough to you, 
Edith, for having let me see Italy. Kobert Browning said that if his 
heart were cut open Italy would be found WTitten upon it ; and so 
Fm sure it would upon mine, if any one thought such an insignificant 
person's heart worth looking at. And Florence, dear Florence ! " 

" And the Via Tornabuoni where all the fashionable shops are — 
and Doney's, and the Enghsh tea-parties, and the English Church. 
I think these things would be found to hold the highest rank in your 
Florentine heart, Mrs. Gresham, though they don't belong to the 
Florence of the Medici," said Gerard, glad to damp middle-aged 
enthusiasm. 

" That shows how very little you understand my character, Mr. 
Hillersdon. As for the shops — they are very smart and artistic, but 
I would give all the shops in the Via Tornabuoni for Whiteley's. 
I adore Florence most of all for her historical associations. To 
think that Catherine de Medici was reigning Duchess in that noble 
Palazzo Vecchio — who were the Vecchios, by-the-by? — some older 
family, I suppose — and that Dante died here, and that Giordino 
Bruno was burnt here, and Rossini lived here, and Browning ! 
Such a flood of delightful memories ! " concluded Rosa with a sigh. 

The preparations for the wedding hung fire somehow. The day 
was again postponed. Mrs. Champion had discovered that it would 
be impossible for her to marry without an interview with her soUci- 
tor, and that gentleman had telegraphed his inability to arrive in 
Florence before the end of the following week. 

" He is my trustee," she explained to Gerard, " and I am so un- 
business-like myself that I am peculiarly dependent upon him. I 



300 Geraj^d ; or^ 

know that I am rich, and that my income is derived from things in 
the City, railways and foreign loans, don't you know. I writo 
cheques for whatever I want, and Mr. Maddickson has never accused 
me of being extravagant, so I have no doubt I am very well off. 
But if I were to marry you without his arranging my affairs I don't 
know what entanglement might happpen." 

" What entanglement could there be ? Am I not rich enough to 
live without touching your fortune ? " 

" My dear Gerard, I didn't mean any doubt of you — not for one 
moment — but the more money we have the more necessary it must 
be to aiTange things legally, must it not ? " 

" I don't think so. To my mind we are as free as the birds of 
the air, and all these delays wound me." 

"Don't say that, Gerard. You know how firmly I made up my 
mind not to marry for a year after poor James' death ; and if I give 
way upon that point to gratify a whim of yours " 

"A whim! How lightly you speak ! Perhaps you would rather 
we never married at all." 

He was white with anger. She reddened and averted her face. 

" Is it so ?" he asked. 

" No, no, of course not," she answered, " only I don't want to be 
hustled into marriage." 

"Hustled, no, but life is short. If you can't make up your mind 
to man-y me within a fortnight from this day, we will cry quits for 
my three years' slavery, and will bid each other good-bye. There 
is a woman in England who won't set up imaginary impediments if 
I ask her to be my wife." 

Ilis voice broke in a suppressed sob as he spoke the last words. 
Ah, that woman in England, that woman for whom love had been 
more than honour, that woman who was to be the mother of his child ! 

" How cruel you are, Gerard ! " exclaimed Edith, scared at the 
thought of losing him ; " no doubt there are hundreds of women in 
England who would like to marry you, with your wealth, just as 
there are hundreds of men who would pretend to be passionately in 
love with me, for the same motive. We can be married within a 
fortnight, I have no doubt. I'll telegraph again to Mr. Maddickson, 
and tell him he must come. I am having my wedding-gown made. 
You would not like me to be married in black." 

" I don't know that I should care. I want to make an end of 
senseless delays. The Jersey Lily is at Spezia, ready for us. 
Jermyn is to be here this afternoon." 

" Jermyn? How strange that you should bo so fond of that un- 
canny {)ersonage." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 301 

" I never said I was fond of him. He amuses me, that's all. As 
for his uncanniness, that's a mere fashion. I believe he has left off 
reading fate in faces. He is too clever to ride any hobby to death." 
'' And he really got nothing for his fate-reading ? " 
" He got into society. I think that was all he wanted." 
" Bring him to dinner this evening, and he can tell our fortunes 
again, if he likes." 

" Not for me. I prefer a happy ignorance." 

Justin Jermyn brought a considerable relief to that party of three 
which had begun to feel the shadow of an overpowering ennui, 
Edith ashamed to be sentimental in Rosa Gresham's presence, Rosa 
infinitely bored, and boring the other two. Mrs. Champion liad 
shrunk from inviting her Florentine friends to meet her betrothed. 
He looked so wretchedly ill, his humours were so fitful and capri- 
cious, that she felt in somewise ashamed of her choice. She could 
not tell these people how handsome, how brilliant, how charming he 
had been two or three years ago. She could not inform the world 
that this intended mamage was the outcome of a girlish romance. 
She preferred to keep her little Florentine world in complete ignor- 
ance of the approaching event. It would be time enough for them 
to know when she and Gerard were wafted far away on the white 
wings of the Jersey Lily. And later, when he should have recovered 
his health and good looks, and easy, equable manners, later, when he 
and she had become leading lights in London societ}', she would 
be proud of him and their romantic union. 

When he recovered his health ? There were moments in which she 
asked herself shudderingly, would that ever be ? He pretended to be 
confident about himself. He told her that to live he needed only happi- 
ness and a balmy climate ; but she knew that it was a feature of that 
fatal malady for the patient to be hopeful in the very teeth of despair ; 
and she had seen many indications that had filled her with alarm, 

" How I wish you would consult Dr. Wilson ! " she said one day, 
when he sat breathless on the marble bench by the fountain, after 
ten minutes' quiet walking. " He has immense experience in — in 
— all chest complaints. I am sure he would be of use to ycu." 

*"I have my own doctor in London," Gerard answered curtly. 
" Your Florentine doctor cannot tell me anything about myself that 
I don't know ; and as for treatment, my valet knows what to do for 
me. I shall be well when we get further south. Your Florence is 
as treacherous as her Medicis. The winds from the Apennines are 
laden with evil." 

Jermyn, under existing circumstances, was a decided acquisition. 



302 Gerard ; or, 

His familiarity with Florence astonished and charmed the two 
ladies. He knew every church, every palace, every pictm-e, the 
traditions of every great family that had helped to make the history 
of the city. Knowledge like this makes every stone eloquent. He 
was asked to join in all their saunterings and in all their drives, and 
his presence gave an air of freshness to the simplest pleasures — to 
the afternoon tea in the garden, and the long evenings in the salon, 
when Mrs. Gresham played Chopin and Schubert to her heart's 
content, while the other three sat afar off and talked. 

" My cousin is better than an orchestrion," said Mrs. Champion, 
" one has only to turn the handle and she will discourse excellent 
music the whole evening, and forgive us for not listening to her." 

" Yes, but I know that in her inmost heart Mrs. Gresham is pity- 
ing us for having a sense wanting," said Jermyn, and then went on 
with his talk, caring no more for the most delicate rendering of a, 
Rubinstein reverie, than if it had been a hurdy-gurdy grinding a 
tuneless polka in the road beyond the garden. 

41 « If >i< * « 

They all went to Spezia to look at the yacht, a railroad journey 
of some hours, through a hot, arid country, which tried Gerard 
severely, and bored the other three. 

" Who would care to live at Pisa ? " said Jermyn, while the train 
was stopping in the station outside that ancient city. " After one 
had looked at the Cathedral and Baptistry, the leaning tower and 
the Campo Santo one would feel that life was done. There is 
nothing more. And it is a misfortune for everybody but the Cook's 
tourist that the four things are close together. One can't even 
pretend to take a long time in seeing them." 

Mrs. Champion professed herself delighted with the yacht. She 
explored every cabin and corner. There was a French clief engaged, 
and an Italian butler, everything was ready for a tour in the 
Mediten-anean, and the Mediterranean as seen to-day in this sunlit 
harbour of Spezia, seemed a sea that could do no wrong. Jermyn 
showed Mrs. Champion her boudoir-dressing-room, with its ingenious 
receptacles for her gowns and other finery, and the cabin for her 
maid — an infinitesimal cabin, but full of comforts. He showed her 
the grand piano, the electric lamps, all the luxuries of modern 
yachting. There was to be no roughing it on board the Jersey 
Lily. The arrangements of this three-hundred-ton yacht left nothing 
to be regi'ettcd after the most perfect of continental hotels. 

Edith was enchanted with everything ; but even in the midst ol 
her enthusiasm a chilling fear came over her at the thought ot 
Gerard lying ill in that luxurious cabin, with its silken curtains and 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 303 

satin pillows, its white and gold Worcester, in which porcelain was 
made to imitate carved ivory. Sickness there — death there — in 
that narrow space tricked out for the Loves and Graces — disease, 
with its loathly details, playing havoc with all the beauty of life, 
iUness tending inevitably towards death. She turned from that 
costlj' prettiuess with a vague horror. 

"Don't you like the style?" asked Jermjm, quick to see that 
revulsion of feeling. 

"No; it is much too fine. I think a yacht should be simpler. 
One does not want the colouring of the Arabian Nights on the sea. 
Picture this cabin in a tempest — all this ornamentation tossed and 
flying about — a tawdry chaos." 

She glanced at Gerard, who stood by, unconcerned in the dis- 
cussion, obviously caring very little whether she were pleased or 
not, looking wnth duU indifferent eye upon the arrangements which 
had been made for his wedding tour. He had these occasional 
lapses of abstraction, in which he seemed to drift out of the common 
life of those around him; moods of sullen melancholy, which made 
Edith Champion shiver. 

They lunched on board the Jersey Lily, and the luncheon was 
gay enough, but Jermyn and Mrs. Grcsham were the chief talkers, 
and it was Jermyn's laughter that gave an air of joyousness to the 
meal. Gerard was dreamy and silent ; Edith was anxiously watchful 
of his moods. He was to be her husband soon, and these moods of 
his would make the colouring of her life. Could she be happy if the 
mental atmosphere were always dull and dreary? The sapphire 
blue of the bay, the afternoon light on the Can-ara Mountains gi-ew 
dim and cold in the gloom of her lover's temper ; he who long ago, 
in the days of his poverty, had been so joyous a spirit. 

She thought of James Champion, and of those monotonous visits 
to the house at Finchley, the weary hours she had spent trying to 
make conversation for a sick man, weighed down by the sense of 
his own infirmities, unable to take pleasure in anything. " Would 
Gerard ever be like that ? " she asked herself with an aching dread ; 
" would he, too, die as Champion had died, ' first a'top.' " She looked 
at his sunken cheek and hollow eye ; she noted his absent manner ; 
and she felt no assurance of exemption from that dreadful doom. 

Happily, however, the dark mood did not last long, and Gerard 
was full of animation during the return journey, full of talk about 
the intended cruise of the Jersey Lily. He had talked it all over 
with the sailing master. They had looked at charts, they had dis- 
cussed the ports they were to touch — the islands which were worth 
stopping at — so many days for Cyprus, and so many for Corfu. 



304 Gerard ; or, 

They were to spend part of the autumn in Palestine, and to winter 
in EgjiDt, and then come slowly back to Naples in the early spring, 
and from Naples follow the coast in a leisurely way to Nice, and 
then good-bye, Jersey Lily, and as fast as the Rapide can carry us 
homeward, to London and Hillersdon House, and all the glories of 
a London season. The prospect sounded delightful, discussed in 
one of Gerard's brightest moods, as they travelled from Pisa to 
Florence ; but the outlook was not quite so joyous half-an-hour later 
when a laugh at one of Jermyn's cynical flashes brought on a violent 
tit of coughing, one of those exhausting, suffocating paroxysms which 
had moved the fair Bavarian to such deep pity. 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

" AXD ALL SHALL PASSE, AND THUS TAKE I MY LEAVE." 

Mr. Maddicksox, Mrs. Champion's solicitor and trustee, anived 
early in the following week — three days sooner than he had declared 
possible, urged to this haste by importunate telegrams. He was 
bidden to a dinner at which Mr. Hillersdon and liis friend Jermyn 
were the only guests, in order that everything might be discussed 
that needed discussion, and that the lady's confidential adnser 
might make the acquaintance of her future husband. 

It was a delicious evening, balmier than many an English July. 
The Easter moon had waned, and the slender crescent of the new 
moon shone silvery pale in a rose-flushed heaven, a heaven where 
in that lovely after-glow the first stars glimmered faint and wan. 
Mrs. Champion was in the garden with Gerard and JermjTi when 
the lawyer arrived, spruce and prim in his impeccable evening dress, 
a man who deemed it a duty he owed to his profession to employ 
only the most admirable of tailors. The two young men were 
lounging on garden-chairs in the circle by the fountain, beyond 
which the great 'pink peonies made a background of bloom and 
verdure. !Mr. Maddickson's short-sighted eyes took the big pink 
]>lossoms for gigantic roses, such as a man might expect to find in 
Italy. lie looked from one of the young men to the other, and at 
once made up his mind that the lady's fiance was the fair youth 
leaning against the fountain, liis head thrown back a httle and the 
rosy light upon his face as he looked up at ]\Irs. Gresham, whose 
speech had just moved him to joyous laughter. Quite the sort of 
yomig man to catch a widow's fancy, thought ^Nlr. Maddickson, who 
supposed it was in tlie nature of widows to be frivolous. 

He felt a cold shiver — happily only perceptible to himself — when 
Mrs. Champion introduced the pale, hollow-eyed young man, with 



The Wo7dd, the Flesh, and the Devil. 305 

slightly bent Blioulders and an -unmistakable air of decay, as Mr. 
Hillersdon. He lost his usual aplomb, and was awkwardly silent for 
some minutes after that introduction. 

There was a brief discussion between the lovers and the lawyer 
late in the evening, while Rosa and Mr. Jermyn were in the loggia, 
he smoking, she declaring she adored the odour of tobacco. 

There were no difficulties, Mr. Maddickson told his client and her 
betrothed, and the settlements might be of the simplest form. He 
proposed as a matter of course that the lady's fortune should be 
settled on herself and her children, giving her full disposing power if 
there should be no children. 

" You are so rich, Mr. Hillersdon," said the lawyer, " that these 
details can hardly interest you." 

" They don't. I wanted Mrs. Champion to marry me out of hand 
ten days ago, without any legal fussitication or delay. I thought the 
Married "Women's Property Act would protect her estate, even in the 
event of my squandering my fortune, which I am hardly likely to do." 

" It is always best to have these matters quietly discussed," said 
Mr. Maddickson. " A hasty marriage is rarely a wise marriage." 

He gave a little sigh as he uttered this tolerably safe opinion, and 
rose to take leave ; but before departmg he paused to address Mrs. 
Champion in a lower tone. 

" I should much like to have a little talk with you to-morrow," 
he said. " Shall I find you at home if I call? " 

" Not in the afternoon. We are to drive to the Certosa." 

" In the morning, then ? I can be here at any hour you like." 

" Come at twelve, and stay to lunch. We lunch at half-past 
twelve." And then, going with him towards the door of the salon, 
she said in a lower tone, " I conclude there is really nothing now to 
hinder my marriage ? " 

" Nothing, except your own inclination. I think you are marry- 
ing too soon ; but we will talk of that to-morrow." 

When he was gone she had an uncomfortable feeling that ho 
would have something disagi-eeable to say to her when he came in 
the morning. People who ask for interviews in that elaborately 
urgent manner are seldom the bearers of pleasant tidings. She had 
a sleepless night, agitated by vague dread. 

Mr. Maddickson was punctual to a minute, for the timepiece in 
the salon chimed the hour as the footman announced him, looking 
as fresh and trim in his checked travelling suit as he had lookccl 
in evening dress; clean-shaved, the image of respectability not 
unconscious of the latest fashion. 

" I have spent the morning at the Academy," he said blandly, " and 

X 



3o6 Gerard ; or, 

have become a convert to the Early Italian school. I don't wonder at 
Hunt, and Millais, and those young fellows, now I have seen those two 
waUs — one splendid with the exquisite fiaish and lustrous colour of 
Giotto, BoticeUi, FiMppo Lippi, Fra Angehco and their disciples, and 
the other covered with a collectionof gloomy daubs, in the high classical 
manner, by the worst painters of the school that came after PvaffaeUe." 
" You have something serious to say to me ? " said Edith, not 
caring a jot for Mi-. Maddickson's opinions on art. 
" Something very serious." 

" Then pray come at once to the point, or my cousin will have 
returned from her walk before you have finished." 

" My dear Mrs. Champion, I have not had the pleasure of much 
social intercourse with you, but I have been interested in you 
professionally ever since your marriage, and my position as your 
trustee should give me some of the privileges of friendship." 

" Consider that j^ou have every privilege that friendship can give," 
she exclaimed impatiently ; " but pray don't beat about the bash." 
" Are you seriously attached to Mr. HiUersdon ? " 
" Of course I am, or I should not be thinking of marrying him 
within a year of my husband's death. We were boy and girl sweet- 
hearts, and I would have married him without a penny if it hadn't 
been for my people. They insisted upon my marrying Mr, Champion, 
and he was very good to me, and I was very happy with him ; but 
the old love was never forgotten, and now that I am free what can 
be more natural than that I should marry my first love ? " 
" "What indeed, but for one unhappy fact." 
"What is that, pray?" 

" You have engaged yourself to a dying man. Surely, my dear 
friend, you must see that this poor young man has the stamp of 
death upon him." 

" I know that he is out of health. He spent the winter in 
England, which he ought not to have done. We are going on a 
long cruise ; we shall be in a cUmate that will cure him. He has 
been neglectful of his health, and has had no one to take care of him. 
It will be all different when we are married." 

" My dear Mrs. Champion, don't deceive yourself," the lawj'er 
said earnestly. " You don't pretend to have the power of working 
miracles, I suppose ; and the raising of Lazarus was hardly a greater 
miracle than this young man's restoration to health would be. I 
tell you — for it is my duty to tell you — that he is dying. I have 
Been such cases before — cases of atrophy, heart and lungs both 
attacked, a gradual extinction of life. Doctor him as you may, 
nurse him as you may, tliis young man must die. Marry him if you 



The JVorld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 307 

like — I shall deeply regret it if you do — and be sure you -svill be 
again a widow before the year is out." 

Tears were streaming down Mrs. Champion's cheeks. This 
matter-of-fact, hard-headed lawyer had only put into plain words 
the dim forebodings, the indistinct terrors which had bjen weighing 
her down since Gerard came to Florence. The change she had seen 
in him on his first coming had frozen her heart ; and not once in all 
the hours they had spent together had he seemed the same man she 
had loved a year ago. Between them there was a shadow, indescrib- 
able, indefinable, which she now knew for the shadow of death. 

Mr. Maddickson made no ill-advised attempt at consolation. He 
knew that in such a case there must be tears, and he let her cry, 
waiting deferentially for anj-thing she might have to say. 

" I had such a sad time with Mr. Champion," she said presently. 
" It was so painful to see his mind gi-adually going. You know 
what a long, long illness it was, nearly a year. I was a great deal 
with him. I wanted him to feel that he was never abandoned. 
It was my duty — but it was a sad trial. It left me an old woman." 

This was a mere/acoTi de parler, since Mrs. Champion's suffer- 
ings during her husband's illness had not written a line upon her 
brow or silvered a single hair. 

"It was a dreadful time," she sighed, after a pause. "I don't 
think I could go through it again." 

" It would be very hard if you were called upon to do so," said 
Mr. Maddickson ; and Mrs. Champion felt that it would be hard. 

She wanted the joys of life ; not to be steeped to the lips in the 
apprehensions and agonies of fast-approaching death. 

" Does he really seem to you so very ill ? " she asked presently. 

" Nobody can doubt it who looks in his face. He has some 
medical attendant in Florence, I suppose ? " 

" No. I wanted him to see Dr. Wilson, but he refused. He says 
that he knows aU about himself, that he has nothing to learn from 
any doctor." 

" And is he hopeful about himself? " 

" Yes, fairly hopef-jl, I think." 

" Poor fellow. I am sorry for him ; but I should be sorrier for 
you if you were foolish enough to marry him." 

Mrs. Gresham came in from her mornmg walk, loquacious and 
gushing as usual. She had been up the hUl, and had taken another 
look at that noble David, and at the view of Florence from the terrace. 

"Florence is in one of her too deUcious moods," she said, "all 
sunlight and colour. My heart aches at the thought of going away. 



1 



o8 Gerard ; or, 



but the place will live in my memory for the rest of my life. I 
shall often be thinking of San Miniato on that hill of gardens, and 
the afternoon light stealing in through the transparent marble in the 
apse, when I am sitting in our o\vn dear old grey church." 

Gerard and his friend appeared before Rosa had left off talking, 
and there Wi.s an immediate adjournment to luncheon, at which 
meal conversation was chiefly sustained by Mr. Maddickson and 
Mr. Jermyn, with a running accompaniment by Eosa, who broke in 
at every point of the argument upon Italian art to express opinions 
which were as irrelevant as they were enthusiastic. 

Edith Champion was silent and thoughtful all tlu'ough luncheon, 
and more than usually observant of her lover, who looked tired and 
depressed, scarcely ate anything, and drank only a single glass of 
claret. Seeing this, she proposed a postponement of the drive to 
the Cailhusian monaster}'. The afternoon was warm to sultriness, 
the road would be dusty, and the going up and down steps would 
tire Gerard. He was altogether indifferent, would go or not go as 
she pleased ; whereupon she settled that Mr. Jermyn and Mr. 
Maddickson should drive -uath Mrs. Gresham, who was greedy of 
sight-seeing, and always anxious to repeat expeditions, while Gerard 
and his /ancee could spend their afternoon in the garden. 

That afternoon in the garden himg somewhat heavily on the 
engaged lovers. They had spent a good many afternoons and 
evenings together since Gerard's arrival in Florence, afternoons and 
evenings that had been ^'irtuaIly tete-a-tete, inasmuch as Eosa was 
very discreet, and preferred her piano to the society of the lovers. 
Thus they had talked of the past and of the future — their plans, 
their houses, their views of society, till there was no fresh ground 
left to travel over. Edith could talk only of actualities. The dim 
labjTinth of metaphysical speculations, the dreamland of poets were 
worlds that were closed against her essentially earthly intellect. 
Gerard had never so felt the something wanting in her mind as he 
felt it now that he had known the companionship of Hester's more 
spiritual nature. With Hester he had never been at a loss for sub- 
jects of conversation, even in the monotony of their isolated lives. 

The fountain, with its border of aram lilies, the pink peonies, the 
blood-red cups of tulips that filled a border on a lower terrace, the 
perfume of lilac and hawthorn, were all a weariness to him, as lie 
sat upon the marble bench, and watched the water leaping towards 
tlie sunlight, only to fall and break in rainbow-coloured spray — 
symbolic of the mind of man, always aspiring, never attaining. He 
was in one of those listless moods when every nerve seems relaxed, 
every sense dulled. Moods in which a man cares for nothing, hopes 



TJie World, the Flesh, and the Dciil. 309 

for nothing, and, save for the dread of death, would willingly have 
done with life. Was it so vast a boon, after all, he asked himself, 
this hfe to which he clung so passionately ? No boon, perhaps, but 
it was all. There was the rub. After this nothing. He might 
sicken of the loveliness around him, of the glory of colour and the 
endless variety of Hght, of the distant view of the mountains, where 
the snow yet hngered. These might pall, but who would willingly 
exchange these for darkness and dust, and the world's forgetfulness ? 

In the discussion on the previous evening it had been settled that 
the wedding was to take place on the coming Saturday. IMr. 
Maddickson had tried his utmost, by various suggestions, to defer 
the date, but Gerard had been inflexible, and had carried his point. 
In three days these two who sat listless and silent in the afternoon 
sunlight, she sheltered by a large white parasol, he baring his head 
to the warmth, were to be man and wife. There was nothing more 
for them to talk about. Their future was decided. 

Gerard did not wait for the return of the party from the Certosa, 
or for afternoon tea. He pleaded letters that must be wi-itten for 
the evening post, and left before five o'clock, promising to dine at 
the villa as usual. Edith walked with him to the gate, and kissed 
him affectionately at parting, detaining him a little at the last, as if 
she were loth to let him leave her. And then, when his carriage 
wheels were out of hearing she went slowly back to the house, -nith 
streaming eyes, went straight to her room, and flung herself upon a 
sofa, and sobbed as if her heart would break. She was so sorry for 
him. She mourned him as one already dead. She mourned for 
her old love, which had ched with the man she had loved, the light- 
hearted lover of five years ago. It was hard to acknowledge, it was 
bitter to bear, but she knew that Mr. IMaddickson was right, and 
that to marry Gerard Hillersdon was only to take upon herself the 
burden of an inevitable son'ow. 

"HI believed that I could make his last days happy, I would 
gladly many him," she told herself. " I would think nothing of 
myself or of my own sorrow afterwards, my second widowhood ; 
but I have seen enough of him now to know that I can't make him 
happy. He is no happier with me than he is anywhere else. He 
is only bored and wearied. I am nothing to him, and his wish to 
man-y me can only be the desire to keep his promise. I believe it 
■wnU be a rehef to his mind if I release him from that promise. It 
was wrong of me to exact such a vow ; very, very wrong." 

She remembered that day in Hertford Street, when she had 
urged him to be true to her, when she had said to him of his 
promise — "It is an oath! " Ah, how passionately she had loved 



3IO Gerard; or, 

him in those daj's, how impossible happiness had seemed to her 
•without him ! She had thought that if he were to marry any other 
woman she would die. There would be no help for her, nothing 
left. Wealth, and all that it can buy, independence, beauty, youth, 
would be worthless without him. And now she was meditating 
with what words, with what gentle circumlocution she should free 
herself from a tie that had become terrible to her, the bond between 
the li\'ing and the dead. Mr. Maddickson's warning had suggested 
no new idea ; the mournful conviction had been growing in her 
mind ever since Gerard came to Florence. She knew that he was 
doomed, and that the day of doom could not be far off. 

Gerard wrote his letters — to his mother, telling her of the intended 
wedding, to his banker, to his lawyer — and then threw himself down 
to rest upon a sofa. He slept more than an hour, and was only 
awakened by some one conaing into the room. It was Jermyn, who 
approached him with an open letter in his hand. 

" Have you come straight from the Certosa, or did you stop to tea 
at the villa ? " Gerard asked, and then seeing the altered hght, " Is 
it time to dress for dinner? " 

" I don't think you wiU. care about dining in Florence to-night. 
I have some bad news for you," replied Jermyn gravely, looking 
down at the letter. 

" Bad news — you have bad news — for me ? From Helmsleigh — 
no, from Lowcombe ? " 

" Yes, it is from Lowcombe. It comes by a side wind, in a letter 
from Matt Muller." 

" Give me the letter," cried Gerard, ghastly pale, snatching it 
from JermjTi's hand. 

He was too agitated for the first few moments to see the portion 
of the letter which referred to his own evil fortune. He saw only 
words about the house Muller was building — abuse of architect and 
builder — the mistakes of one, the dilatoriness of the other. It was 
only when Jermjii put a hand over his shoulder and pointed to the 
bottom of a closely written page that he saw where the bad news began. 

" You are interested I know in that pretty young woman at the 
Eosary, though I could never persuade you to introduce me to her. 
You will be sony to hear that she is in sad trouble, poor girl, 
trouble which is all the sadder because the man who called himself 
her husband seems to have deserted her. There was a baby bom 
at the Rosary — a baby that came upon this mortal scene before he 
was expected, poor little beggar. The old father's sudden death, I 
beheve, was the cause of this premature event — and ten days or a 
fortnight after the baby's birth the young mother went clean off 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 311 

her head, and only last night she escaped from the two nurses who 
had care of her, and wandered away hy the river, with, I beheve, 
the intention of drowning herself. The baby was drowned, and the 
mother only escaped by the happy chance of a couple of Cockneys 
who were rowing down from Oxford, one of whom swam to the 
poor girl's rescue very pluckily. There is to be an inquest on the 
infant this afternoon, and I don't know in whose custody' the mother 
now is, but I suppose some one is looking after her. My builder's 
foreman Hves at Lowcombe, and he tells me there has been a great 
deal of excitement about the affair, for this Mr. Hanley is supposed 
to be a man of large means, and he is thought to have acted cruelly to 
this poor young woman, wife or no wife, in leaving her at such a time." 
" Cruelly," muttered Gerard, " yes, with the cruelty of devils. 
But she would not come with me — it was her choice to stay. How 
could I teU ? Is it true, JeiTuyn ? Is this some trick of yours to 
frighten me ? " 

" It is no trick. I thought it best to show you the letter, that you 
should know the worst at once." 

" The worst, yes. Hester, perhaps, a prisoner — accused of murder- 
ing her child ! The worst ! Oh, what a wretch I have been ! 
When can I get away from here ? How soon can I get to London ? " 
" Tou can leave Florence to-night ; I will go \vith you. The 
Mont Cenis, I think, is the quickest way. I'll arrange everything 
with your servant. Shall you see Mrs. Champion before you go ? " 
" See her, no. What good would that do ? " 
" We were to have dined with her this evening. Shall I write an 
apology in your name ? " 

"Yes, you can do that. Tell her I am called away upon a 
matter of life and death ; that I don't know how long it may be 
before I can return to Florence. You may make my apologj' as 
abject as you like. I doubt if she and I will ever meet again." 

"You are agitating yourself too much, HiEersdon," remonstrated 
Jermyn. 

"Can there be too much in the matter? Can anything be too 
much? Oh, how nobly that girl loved me — how generous, how 
uncomplaining she was ! And I have murdered her ! First I slew 
her good name, and now her child is murdered — murdered by me, 
not by her, and she has to bear the brand of infamy, as if she were 
a common felon." 

" She will not be considered guilty. It will be known that she 
was iiTcsponsible. People will be good to her, be sure of that." 

" Will the law be good to her ? The law which takes no accoimt 
of circumst-ances, the law which settles everything by hard and fast 







12 Gerard; or, 



lines. To-morrow ! It will be the day after to-mon-ow before we 
are at Lowcombe, travel how we may. What ages to wait ! Get 
me some telegraph forms. I'U telegraph to the Eector. He is a 
good man, and may be able to help us." 

" To help 2(s," he said, making himself one with Hester in her 
trouble, re-united to her by calamity. He forgot in his agony how 
false he had been to her, forgot that he had planned to spend the 
rest of his days far away from her. The thought of her sorrow 
made her newly dear to him. 

He made his appeal to the Rector in the most urgent form that 
occmred to him. He implored that good man for Christian charit}'' 
to be kind to the iH-used girl whom he knew as Mrs. Hanley. He 
urged him to spare no outlay in providing legal help, if legal help were 
needed. If she was able to understand anything she was to be assured 
that her husband would be Avith her without the loss of an hour. 

He used that word husband, careless of consequences, albeit in 
three days he was to have become the husband of another woman. 

While he wrote the telegram Jermyn looked at the time-table. 
The train for Turin left in an hour. The order was given to the 
valet, everything was to be ready, and a fly was to be at the door 
in three quarters of an hour. 

" You'U have some dinner served here, I suppose ? " suggested 
Jermjm. 

" Do 3'ou think I can eat at such a time ? " 

" Well, no, perhaps not. You've been hard hit ; but it would be 
better if you could fortify yom-self for along journey." 

" Take care of yourself," answered Gerard curtly. 

" Thanks. I always do that," said Jermyn. " I'll go down to 
the table d'hote when I've written to Mrs. Champion." 

He seated himself to write, but before he began a waiter brouo-ht 
in a letter for Mr. IlUlersdon. Gerard knew the hand, the thick 
vellum paper with its narrow black border and massive black mono- 
gram; he knew the delicate perfume which always accompanied 
such letters, a faint suggestion of violets or Uhes. 

The letter was brief : — 

" Deak Gerakd, — " I have a wretched headache, and am almost 
depressed and miserable this evening, so I must ask you and your 
friend to postpone your visit. I am not fit company for any one. I wUl 
write again to-morrow. I have much to say to you — that must be 
Baid somehow. It may be easier to write than to speak. — Ever yours. 

" Edith." 

A curious letter to be WTitten by a woman from whom he had 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 313 

parted only a few hours earlier. What could she have to say to 
him that could not have been said by the fountain when they two 
sat silent, as if spellbound in the languid air ? He wondered at the 
wording of her letter, but with faintest interest in the question. 
Everything that aflected his life at Florence had grown dim and 
blurred, like a faded photograph. The image of Edith Champion 
had receded into the backgroimd of his thoughts. 

" Here is a letter that will save you the trouble of an elaborate 
apology," he said to Jermyu, " a letter which I can answer myself." 

He scrawled a hurried line announcing his departure from Floi'ence. 

" You have deferred our wedding-day twice," he wrote. " Fate 
constrains me to defer it for the third time. I will write to you 
from London." 



CHAPTER XXX. 

" FROM THE WARM WILD KISS TO THE COLD." 

Gerard travelled as fast as trains and boat would take him, but it 
was noon on the second day after he had left Florence before he 
aiTived at the nearest station to Lowcombe, with the prospect of over 
an hour's drive behind an indifferent horse before he could reach the 
Rosary and know the worst. He was alone. He had sent his valet 
to Hniersdon House, and had resolutely refused Jermyn's company, 
although Jermyn had urged that he was hardly in a state of health 
to risk a solitary journey, or the consequences of further ill news. 

" If there is anything worse to be told, you could not help me to 
bear the blow," Gerard answered gloomily. " Nor would she care 
to see you with me. You were no favourite of hers ; and perhaps 
if it had not been for you I should never have left her." 

They had searched all the morning papers they could obtain 
during the journey from Dover to Charing Cross, to discover any 
paragi-aph that might record the calamity at Lowcombe — for any re- 
port of the inquest on the infant, or the rescue of the mother. It was 
at least some relief to find no such record. Whatever had happened, 
the report had, by happy chance or kindly influence, been kept out of 
the papers. Hester's name and Hester's sorrows were not bandied 
about in a social leader, or even made the subject of a paragraph. 

Gerard reached Lowcombe, therefore, in absolute ignorance of 
anything that might have happened since Mr. Muller's letter was 
written. He drove straight to the Rosary, where garden and shrub- 
beries looked dull and dreary under a sunless sky. It seemed as if 
he had left summer on the other side of the Alps — as if he had come 



314 Gerard; or, 

into a land where there was no summer, only a neutral season, which 
meant gloom and smoke in London, and dim greyness in the country. 

His heart grew cold at sight of the windows. The blinds were 
down. The house was either uninhabited, or inhabited by Death. 

He rang violently, and rang again, but had to wait nearly five 
minutes, an interval of torturing suspense, before a housemaid 
opened the door, her countenance only just composing itself after 
the broad grin that had rewarded the baker's last sally. The 
baker's cart rattled away from the back door while the housemaid 
stood at the front door answering her master's eager questions. 

" Where is your mistress ? She — she is not " 

He could not utter the word that would have given shape to his 
fear. Happily the girl was sympathetic, although frivolous-minded 
as to bakers and butcher-boys. She did not prolong his agony. 

" She is not any worse, sir. She's very bad, but not worse." 

" Can I see her at once — would it do her any harm to see me ? " 
he asked, going towards the staircase. 

" She's not here, sh. She's at the Rectory. Mr. Gilstone had 
her taken there after she was saved from drowning by those two 
London gentlemen. She was took to the Eose and Crown, as that 
was the nearest house to the river ; the two gentlemen carried her 
there, quite unconscious, and they had hard work to bring her 
round. And they sent here for the two nurses, and they kep' 
her there, at the Hose, till next morning ; and then the Rector he 
had her taken to the Rectorj^, and his sister is helping to nurse her." 

" They are good souls," cried Gerard, " true Christians. What 
shall we do in om troubles when there are no more Christians in 
the world ? " he thought, deeply touched by kindness from the man 
whose sympathy he had repulsed. 

" Is your mistress dangerously ill ? " he asked. 

" She has been in 'great danger, sir; and I don't think she's out 
of danger yet. I was at the Rectory last night to inquire, and one of 
the nurses told me it was a very critical case. But she's well nursed, 
and well cared for, sir. You can make yom-self happy about that." 

" Happy ! I can never Icnow happiness again ! " 

" Oh, yes, but you will, sir, when Mrs. Hanley gets well. I make 
no doubt they'll pull her through." 

"And her baby " 

" Oh the poor little thing t He was such a weakly Httle mite— 
I'm sure he's better off in heaven ; if his poor mother could only 
think so, when she comes round and has to be told about it." 

" There was an inquest, wasn't there? " 

" Well, yes, ^sir, there was an inquest at the Rose and Crown ; 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 315 

but it wasn't much of an inquest," Mary Jane added, in a comforting 
tone. " The baker told me the coroner and the other gentlemen 
weren't in the room above ten minutes. ' Death by misadventure,' 
that was the verdict. Everybody was so sorry for the poor young 
lady. And it was a misadventure, for if the night-nurse hadn't 
left the door unfastened, and fallen asleep in her easy-chair, nothing 
need have gone wrong. It was all along of her carelessness. My 
poor young mistress got up and put on her morning gown and 
slippers, and took the baby out of his bassinette, and went down- 
stairs and out of the drawing-room window, and slie must have 
gone across the lawn down to the towing-path, and wandered and 
wandered for nearly two mUes before she threw herself in just by 
the little backwater where she and you used to be so fond of sitting 
in the punt, where we used to send your lunch out to you." 

" Yes, yes, I know. It was there, was it ? " 

He thought of the hours they had spent thei;e, hours of blissful 
tranquillity, steeped in the summer warmth, the golden light, sweet 
odoiKS of field flowers, soothing ripple of water, and rustle of willow 
branches. What happy hours of delight in all that is most exquisite 
in literature, Milton, Keats, Tennyson, Kossetti, in that music of 
words which is second only to the music of sweet concords and 
exquisite harmonies ! Oh, happy hours, happy days, bliss which he 
had dreamed might last out all his life, and lengthen life by its 
reposeful sweetness. And now he had to think of his dear love, the 
fair Egeria of those peaceful hours, wandering distraught along that 
river bank, choosing by some dim instinct of the dreaming mind that 
spot above all other spots in which to seek death and oblivion. 

" Tell me how it all happened," he said to the girl. " Mr. Daven- 
port's death — was it very sudden ? " 

" Dreadfully sudden, sh. It was the shock of her father's death 
which made my mistress so bad. She was very down-hearted after 
you went abroad. "We could all see that, though none of us ever 
Bee her cry. She was too much the lady to give way before servants ; 
but we could tell by her face in the morning that she'd been awake 
most of the night, and that she'd been crying a good deal. And 
then she'd pull herself together, as you may say, and be bright and 
cheerful with the old gentleman, and sit with him, and talk to him, 
and walk beside his chair, and give all her thoughts and all her time 
to making him as happy as he could be made. And it wasn't easy 
work, for after you was gone he took a sort of restless fit, and he 
was always asking about you, the nurse said, and he seemed uneasy 
at not seeing you. And he used to talk to poor Mrs. Hardey in a 
disagreeable way, and he was quite nasty to her, his man told mc, 



o 



1 6 Gerard; or, 



and was always blaming her, as if she hadn't done her best for him. 
He was very cruel to her, I tliink ; but I suppose it must have been 
because he was worse in himself. And one day he was particularly 
unkind, and she left him in tears, and went out into the garden and 
sat there alone by the river, and didn't go to her father's room to 
sit with him while he took his lunch, as she generally did, and his 
man found her sitting in the garden very low-spirited, when he went 
to tell her that he and the nurse were going to dinner. Missus 
always used to sit with the old ijentleman while those two had their 
dinner. And she went up to his room, and found him lying quietly 
on the sofa, and she sat there over an hour, for those two used to 
take their time over their dinner, no doubt thinking he was asleep 
all the time, and then, just as the nurse was going upstairs, we all 
heard a dreadful shriek and a fall, and we found her lying insensible 
on the floor near the sofa, where her father lay dead. She had gone 
to him, and spoken to him, and touched him, and foimd him dead." 

There was a pause, a silence broken only by Gerard's agonised 
sobbing, as he sat at the table where he had planned his new novel, 
in the happy morning of his love, sat with his head bent low upon 
his folded arms. 

" She was very bad all that day and night, and Dr. Mivor tele- 
gi'aphed for a second nurse, for he said we was in for a bad business. 
She was quite light-headed, poor young lady, and it was heart- 
breaking to hear her asking for you, and why you didn't go to her, 
and talking about her father, and begging him to forgive her, as if 
she had any need of forgiveness, when she'd devoted herself to 
making him comfortable and happy from the first hour he was took. 
And three days after his death the poor little baby was born, and 
she was quite out of her mind all the time and didn't seem to care 
about the baby, though he was a dear pretty little thing — but very 
tiny and weak, and I don't think he'd have lived long, even with 
the best of care. A week after he was born the fever went down 
a bit, and she seemed to be coming more to herself. There 
was a great change in her, and she left off talking wildly, and she 
seemed to understand that her father was dead, and that you 
were far away ; and everybody thouglit she was better. I sup- 
pose this made tlie night-nurse a litile less watchful. Both nurses 
had been very careful of her while she was so bad with the fever, 
but they began to take things easier, and to drop asleep in the arm- 
chair. They'd both had a hard time of it for the first week. And I 
think that's about all I can tell you, sir ; except tliat Mr. Davenport 
was buried in Lowcombe churchyard nearly a fortnight ago." 

" Thank you for telling me so much. You are a good girl." 



The Wo7'ld, the Flesh, and the Devil. 317 

" Shall I get you a Lit of lunch, sir ? You are looking so tired 
and ill." 

" No, thank you, Mary, I shall eat nothing till I get to the Rectory. 
Good day. Take care of the house, and keep everything in good 
order till your mistress and I come back. By the way, who has 
been supplying you with money since your mistress fell ill ? Have 
you had any difficulty in providing for expenses? " 

"No, sir; the cook knew where mistress kept her money, and 
she made bold to unlock the di'awer and take out what was wanted. 
There was a fifty-pound note and some sovereigns in the drawer. 
There has been plenty to pay the nurses and gardeners, and to pro- 
vide any ready money that was wanted. Cook has kept an account 
of everj-thing. The undertaker has not been paid anything, nor 
the doctor, but they know their money's safe." 

The fly was waiting, and it took Gerard to the Rectory with very 
little loss of time, yet to his agonised mind the distance seemed long, 
the horse slower than such hirelings usually are. Fate had used 
him almost better than he had hoped. The coroner's verdict freed 
Hester from all shadow of blame in the child's death — his child ; 
that child of whose existence he had taken so little thought, deem- 
ing that he had done enough when he had left ample funds at the 
mother's disposal. He had cared but for one thing, to make the 
best and the most of his own waning days — and the thought of 
the child that was to be born to him had awakened no tender feel- 
ing, only an aching envy of that young fresh life in which doubtless 
his quahties and characteristics would live again under happier 
conditions, the life which would be tasting all the sweetest things 
that this world can give — love, ambition, pride, luxury, the mastery 
of men — while he was lying cold and dumb, cheated by inexorable 
Death out of the riches which Fortune had flung into his lap. Fate 
had given with one hand, and had taken away with the other. No, 
he had never felt as an expectant father should feel. The thought 
of his duty to the child had never urged him to repair the wTong 
he had done the mother — but now remorse weighed heavy on his 
heart, and he hated himself for the egotism which had governed 
him in all his relations with the woman he had pretended to love. 
He had glossed over all that was guilty in their union ; he had kissed 
away her tears, and made hght of her remorse ; he had compared 
her to Shelley's Mary, forgetting that Shelley was as eager to legalise 
his union as the most conforming Christian in the land. He looked 
back upon the happy days of their love, and knew that when he was 
happiest Hester's life had been under the shadow of an ever-present 
regret, knew that while she was generous and devoted he had 



o 



1 8 Gerard; or, 



been selfish and false, soothing her conscience with . shallowest 
sophistries. 

Yes, he had used her ill, the woman who loved him ; had killed 
her, it might be ; or had killed her intellect, leaving her to go down 
to old age through the long joyous years, a mindless wreck ; she 
who was once so happy, a lovely ethereal creature in whom mind 
and heart were paramount over clay. 

The Eector received him coldly, and with a countenance which 
unaccustomed anger made strange and forbidding. "When a 
benevolent man is angry his anger has a deeper root and a more 
chilling aspect than the ready displeasure of less kindly spirits. For 
Mr. GOstone to be angry meant a complete upheaval of a nature 
that was made up of sympathy and compassion. But here for once 
was a man with whom he could not sympathise, for whom his 
present feeling was abhorrence. 

''Is she recovering? May I see her? " asked Gerard, on the 
threshold of the Eector's study, chilled by that stem countenance, 
yet too full of the thought of Hester to delay his questioning. 

"She is a shade better this morning," the Eector answered coldly, 
" but she is far too Ul for you to see her — at any rate until the 
doctor thinks it safe — and when you are allowed to see her it is 
doubtful whether she will recognise you. She is in a world of her 
own, poor soul, a world of shadows." 

"Is her mind quite gone? " faltered Gerard. "Does the doctor 
fear " 

" The doctor fears more for her Hfe than for her mind. If we can 
save her life, the mind may recover its balance as strength returns. 
That is his opinion and mine. I have seen such cases before — and 
the result has generally been happy ; but in those cases we had to 
deal wth a ruder clay. All that is finest in this girl's nature ■wUl 
tell against her recovery. There is a heavy account against you 
here, Mr. Hanley." 

" I know, I know," cried Gerard, with his face turned from the Eector, 
as he stood looking out of the window, across the flame-coloured 
tulips, the level lawn, towards the churchyard, conscious of nothing 
which his eyes looked at, only turning his face away to hide his agony. 

"A heavy account; you have brought dishonour upon a woman 
whose every instinct makes for virtue. You have broken her heart 
by your desertion." 

" I did not desert her " 

" Not as the world reckons desertion perhaps. You left her a 
house and servants and a bundle of bank-notes ; but you left her 
just when she had the most need of sympathy — left her to face an 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 319 

ordeal which might mean death — left her mider conditions which no 
man with a heart could have ignored." 

" I was inconsiderate — selfish — cruel. Say the worst you can of 
me. Lash me with bitter words. I acknowledge my iniquity. I 

was only just recovered from a dangerous illness " 

" Through which she nursed you. I have heard of her devotion." 
" Through which she nursed me. I was not ungrateful — but I 
was wretched, borne down by the knowledge that I had only a short 
time to Uve. Ah, Rector, you in your green old age, sturdy, vigorous, 
with strength to enjoy the fulness of life even now when your hair 
is silver — you can hardly reaUse what a young man feels who has 
imespectedly inherited a vast fortune, and who while the dehght of 
possession is still fresh aud wonderful, is told that his hfe is narrowed 
to a few precarious years — that if he is to last out even that short 
span he must watch himself with jealous care, husband his emotions, 
lest the natural joys of youth should w^aste the oil in the lamp. This 
was -what I was told. Be happy, be calm, be tranquil, said my 
physician ; in other words, be self-indulgent, care for nothing and 
for no one but self. And I felt that yonder house was k i l lin g me. 
The shadow of that old man's decaying age darkened my fading 
youth. If Hester would have gone with me to the South there 
would have been no break in our union — at least I think not — 

though there was another claim " 

" She refused to leave her father ? " 

" Yes. She preferred him to me. It was her own free choice." 
" Well, there are excuses for you, perhaps ; and the result of your 
conduct has been so disastrous that you need no sermon from me. 
If you have a heart, the rest of your life must be darkened by 
remorse. Your child's death hes at your door." 

" Does she remember that dreadful night — does she grieve for the 
child? "asked Gerard. 

" Happily not. I have told you she is living in a world of shadows." 
" Let me see her," pleaded Gerard. " You don't know how fondly 
she loves me — how dear we have been to each other. Her mind 
will awaken at the sound of my voice." 

" Awaken to the memory of all that she has suffered. Would 
that be an advantage ? ]\Ir. Mivor must be the judge as to_ whether 

she ought to see you. If he finds no objection " 

" When will he be here? " 
" Not till the evening." 

" Then I'll go to his house, and bring him here if necessary. Mr. 
Gilstone," said Gerard, stopping on the threshold, as the Rector 
followed him to the hall, " you are a good man. However hardly 



320 Gerard ; or^ 

you may think of me, nothing will ever lessen my gratitude to you 
■ — and in the short time I may yet have to Hve I hope to prove that 
with me gratitude means something more than a word." 

The Rector gave him his hand in silence, and Gerard got into the 
lly and was driven to Mr. Mivor's comfortable cottage, a low, white- 
walled building wdth a thatched roof, at the end of the stragghng 
village street. 

Mr. Mivor was sm-prised to see him, but asked no questions. 

" I should have telegraphed to you more than a fortnight ago if I 
had known where to find you," he said. " I am glad you have come 
back. Mrs. Hanley is a little better to-day — only a little. We 
must be thankful for the least improvement, and we must try not to 
lose ground again." 

" She has been dangerously ill, I am told ? " 

" Dangerously ! Yes, I should think so. She has been on the 
brink of death, not once, but several times since the birth of her 
child. And since the fever took a bad turn — the night she tried to 
make away with herself — her condition has been all but hopeless, 
until yesterday, when there were signs of rallying." 

"May I see her?" 

" I don't think it could do her any harm. She won't know j'ou." 

" Yes, she will ! She will know me. She may not recognise 
people who are almost strangers to her, but she will know me " 

" Poor lady ! She hardly knows herself. Ask her who she is, 
and she will tell you a strange story. All we can hope is that with 
returning strength mind and memory will return. I will go to the 
Eectory with you, and if I find her as tranquil as she was this 
morning you shall see her." 

They were at the Rectory ten minutes later, and this time Mr. 
Gilstone received Gerard with kindliness. He had given speech to 
his indignation, and now his natural benevolence pleaded with him 
for the repentant sinner. He received Gerard in his study, while 
the doctor went to see his patient. 

" You have not asked me why I took upon myself to have Mrs. 
Hanley brought to this house, rather than to her own," he said. 

" I had no need to ask. It was easj' for me to understand your kindly 
motive. You would not let her re-enter a house in wliich she had 
tasted such misery — you wished to surround her with fresh objects, in a 
peaceful shelter where nothing would remind her of her past suilerings." 

" That was one motive. The other was to place her under the 
care of my sister. However devoted hired nurses may be, and I 
have nothing to say against the woman who is now nursing Mrs. 
Hanley, it is well that there should be some one near who is not 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 321 

a hireling, who works for love, and not for wages. My sister's 
heart has gone out to this poor lady." 

Mr. Mvor appeared at the study door, which had been left open 
while Gerard waited, his ear strained to catch every sound in the 
quiet, orderly house, where all the machinery of life went on with 
a calm regularity that knew no change save the changing seasons. 
The silence of the house oppressed Gerard as he went upstairs, 
filled with an aching fear. "Was he to find her cold and unconscious 
of his presence — the girl who had hung upon him with despairing 
love when they parted, less than a month ago ? 

A door was opened, a woman in a white cap and apron looked at 
him gravely, and drew aside. It was the nurse who had waited 
upon old Nicholas Davenport, and even in this moment the association 
made him shudder. And then, scarcely conscious of his own move- 
ments, he was standing in a sunlit room where a young woman in 
a white morning gown, and with hollow cheeks and soft, fair hair, 
cropped close to the well-shaped head, was sitting at a table playing 
with the flowers that were strewn upon it. 

" Hester, Hester, my darling, I have come back to you," he cried, 
in a heart-broken voice, and then he fell on his knees beside her 
chair, and tried to draw the fair face down towards his quivering 
lips, but she sb.rank away from him with a scared look. 

In spite of the doctor's warning he was unprepared for this. He 
had hugged himself with the behef that had her mind wandered ever 
so far away, as far as east from west, or heaven from earth, she 
would know him. To him she would be unchanged. The one 
beloved personality would stand out clear and firm amidst the chaos 
of delirious dreams. Much as he had prated of molecular action, 
and nerve messages, and all the machinery of materiahsm, he had 
expected here to find spirit working independently of matter, and 
love dominant over the laws of physiology. 

The violet eyes, dilated by madness, looked at him, looked him 
through and through, and knew him not. She shrank from him 
Avith distrust, gathered up the scattered flowers in the folds of her 
loose muslin gown, and moved hastily from the table. 

"I'm going to plant these in the front garden, nurse," she said, 
" I want to get them planted before father comes from the library. 
It'll be a surprise for him, poor dear. He was grumbUng about the 
dust this morning, and saying how it spoils everything, and he'll bo 
pleased to see the garden full of tulips and hyacinths. This sort 
will grow without roots — they grow best without roots, don't they ? " 

She looked down at the flowers dubiously, as if not quite clear 
upon this point, and then with a sudden vehemence ran to the 

V 



o 



2 2 Gerard ; or, 



fireplace, where a small fire was burning behind a high brass fender, 
and flung the tulips and hyacinths into the fender. 

" Oh, Mrs. Hanley, that's very naughty of you," cried the nurse, 
as if reproving a child, " to throw away the pretty flowers that the 
Eector brought you this morning. Why did you do that, now ? " 

" I don't want them. They won't grow. It's the day for my music 
lesson, and I haven't practised. How cross Herr Schuter will be ! " 

There was a Httle cottage piano in a recess by the fireplace — a 
little old piano on which ^liss Gilstone had practised her scales forty 
years before. Hester ran to the piano, seated herself hastily, and 
began to play one of Chopin's noctui-nes — a piece so familiar in her 
girlhood that even in distraction some memory of the notes remained, 
and she played correctly and with feeling to the end of the first 
movement, when suddenly, at a loss for a bar, she burst into tears 
and left the piano. 

" It is all gone," she said. " Why can't I remember? " 

In all these varying moods and rapid movements about the room 
there had not been one look or one gesture which indicated con- 
sciousness of Gerard's presence. Those large, luminous eyes looked 
at him and saw him not, or saw him only as a stranger whose image 
awakened no interest. 

The nurse dried the patient's tears and soothed her after that 
burst of grief at the piano, and a few minutes later Hester was 
standing at the open window tranquillised and smiling, watching for 
some one with an air of glad expectancy. 

" How late he is," she said, '' and I've got such a nice httle 
dinner for him ! I'm afraid it will be spoilt by waiting. It's the 
day the new magazines are given out at the Free Library. He is 
always late on magazine day. I ought to have remembered." 

She turned quickly from the window and looked about the room. 

" What has become of my sewing-machine ? " she asked. " Have 
you taken it away ? " to the nurse ; " Or you ? " to Gerard. " Pray 
bring it back directly, or I shall be behindhand with my work." 

Her thoughts were all in the past, the days before she had entered 
into the tragedy of life, while yet existence was passionless, and 
meant only patience and duty. How strange it seemed to find her 
memory dweUing upon that dull time of drudgery and care, while 
the season of joy and love was forgotten ! 

" Is she often as restless as this ? " he asked, with an agonised look 
at the doctor, who stood by the window, calmly watchful of his patient. 

" Restless, do you call her ? You would know what restlessness 
means if you had seen her three days ago, when the dehrium was at 
its height, and one delusion followed another at lightning pace in 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 323 

that poor little head, and when it was all her two nurses could do to 
keep, her from doing herself harm. She has improved wonderfully 
since then, and I am a great deal more hopeful about her." 

" Have you had no second opinion ? Surely in such a case as 
this a specialist should have been consulted? " 

"We have had Dr. Campbell, the famous lunacy-doctor, whose 
opinion of the case corresponds with my own. There is very little 
to be done. Watchfulness and good nursing are all that we have 
to look to — and Nature, the great healer. I was right, you see. I 
told you she would not know you, and that seeing you could do her 
neither good nor harm." 

" Yes, you were right. I am nothing to her — no more than if I 
had been a century dead — no more than any of the dead who aro 
lying under those crumbling old tombstones yonder." 

He glanced towards the churchyard, where the soft spring sun- 
Hght was shining upon grey granite and golden lichen, the dark 
foliage of immemorial yews and the downy tufts upon the young 
willows. He was standing side by side with the woman who had 
loved him better than her life, and she took no heed of him. He 
ti-ied to clasp her hand, but she moved away from him looking at 
him in shy surprise, and with some touch of apprehension or dislike. 
"Hester," he exclaimed piteously, "don't you know me?" 
"Are you another doctor?" she asked. "There have been so 
many doctors — so many nurses — and yet I am quite well. They 
have cut off my hair, and they treat me as if I were a child — but there 
is nothing the matter with me. I don't want any more doctors." 

"You see how she is," said Mr. Mivor. " I think you had better 
come away at once. Your presence excites her, although she doesn't 
know you. Nothing can be done for her that is not being done. Miss 
Gilstone has been all kindness. She has given up her sitting-room 
and bedroom to your wife because they are the prettiest in the 
house." 

" She is an angel of charity," said Gerard, " and Heaven knows 
how I can ever repay her." 

" She is a Christian," said Mr. Mivor, " and she won't Ibok to you 
for any reward. It is as natural for her to do good as it is for the 
flowers to bloom when their season comes." 

Gerard followed the doctor out of the room, his looks lingering to 
the last upon the sweet pale face by the window, but the face gave 
no sign of returning memory. The doctor was right, no doubt. 
Messages of some kind were being carried swiftly enough along the 
nerve-fibres to the nerve corpuscles, but no message told of Gerard 
Hillersdon's existence, or of last year's love-stoiy. 



324 Gerai'd ; or, 

Gerard Hillersdon did not go back to London immediately after 
leaAnng the Rectory. He was fagged and faint after the long night of 
travel, the long morning of heart-rending emotions, the unaccustomed 
hurraing to and fro ; but he had something to do that must be done, 
and with this business on his mind he had refused all oft'ers of refresh- 
ment from the hospitaWe Rector, although he had eaten nothing since 
the hurried dinner in Paris on tbe previous night. He went from the 
Rectory at Lowcombe to the Rose and Crown, in the next village, the 
inn to which Hester had been carried after the rescue from the river, 
and at which the inquest upon her drowned baby had been held. He 
went to that house thiaking that there he would be most likely to get 
the information he wanted about the man who had saved Hester's life. 

Life was saved, and reason might return ; but, alas, with returning 
reason would come the mother's cry for the child her madness had 
destroyed. Must she be told— or would she remember what she 
had done ? Would she recall the circumstances of that fearful 
night, and know that in her attempt to end her own sorrows she had 
killed her innocent child ? 

To-day his business was to find out the name of the man who had 
saved her life, possibly at the hazard of his own ; and he argued 
that the Rose and Crown was the likeliest place at which to get the 
information he wanted. 

He was not mistaken. The inn was kept by a buxom widow, 
who charged abnormal prices for bedrooms in the boating season, 
and was said to have fattened by picking the bones of boating men. 
Although her bills were extortionate her heart was beneficent, and 
she was eager to be serviceable to Mr. Hanley, of the Rosary. She 
expatiated tearfully upon the loveliness of the dear young lady who 
had been carried unconscious and apparently dead to the Rose and 
Cro\\'n's best bedroom. She dUated upon the efforts that had been 
made to bring life back to that cold form, and upon her own pious 
tliankfulness when those efforts proved successful. 

'• Indeed, sir, I thought the dear young lady was gone," she said, 
" and if we hadn't had a medical student in the house who hurged 
us to go on " — the aspirate here seemed only an element of force — 
" and if we hadn't had the Xewmane Serciety's instructions 'anguig 
up in the 'all, I don't suppose we should ever have had the patience 
or the strength of mind to have kep' at it as we did." 

" Can you tell me the name of the man who rescued her ? " asked 
Gerard, somewhat curtly, considering the landlady's beneficence a 
matter to be settled like her bills, by a cheque. 

" Why, of course I can, sir. He and his friend was obliged to 
stay the night in the 'ouse, for he'd nothing but his wet boating 



The World, the Elesh, and the Devil. 325 

clothes and a overcoat He stopped that night, and his clothes 
was dried at my own sitting-room fire, which I kep' up all night, on 
purpose, and he wrote his name in the visitors' book before he left 
next morning. I says, 'I should like to have your name in my 
book, sir, for you're a brave-hearted man.' And he laughs and 
say, ' Lor, landlady, you don't think what I've done anythink out of 
the way, do you? And as for my name,' he saj's, 'it's a very 
common one, but such as it is you're welcome to it.' " 

The landlady produced a fat black quarto, in which, amidst much 
sportive commendation of her meat and drink, and many fictitious 
entries of Dukes and Marquises, famous politicians, and notorious 
criminals, and a good deal of doggerel verse, there appeared the 
following modest entry — 

Lawrence Brown, 49, Parchment Place, Inner Temple. 

Gerard copied the address into his pocket-book, presented the mis- 
tress of the Kose and Crown with a bank note, for distribution among 
those servants who had been helpful on the night of the catastrophe, 
wished her good day, and was seated in his fly before she had time 
to steal a glance at the denomination of the note, or to give speech to 
her gratitude on discovering that it was not five, but five-and-twenty. 

" This Mr. ilanley must be uncommonly rich to be so free witli 
his money," she reflected, '• but for all that I don't beheve that 
pretty young creature is his wife. She wouldn't have took to 
wandering about with her baby if she had been. Perpetual fever 
says the doctor. Don't tell me ! Perpetual fever would never 
make a respectable married woman forget herself to that extent." 

Two hours later Gerard IliUersdon was seated face to face with 
Lawrence Brown, barrister of no particular circuit, and of Parch- 
ment Place, Inner Temple. 

The room was shabby almost to squahdness : the man was nearer 
forty than thirty, with roughly modelled features, keen eyes, intelli- 
gent brow, and dark hair already touched with grey about the temples. 

He received ^Ir. Hillersdon's thanks politely, but with obvious 
reserve. He made very light of what he had done — no man seeing 
a life at stake could have done less. He was sorry — and here his 
face grew pale and stern — he had not been able to save the other 
life, the poor little" child. 

" My friend and I heard a child's famt cry," he said, " and it was 
that which called our attention to the spot, before we heard the 
splash. Tlie current runs strong at that point. The woman rose, 
and sank again, twice before I caught hold of her, but the child was 
swept away upon the current. The body was found caught among 
the rushes half a mile lower down the stream." 



326 Gerard; or, 

There was a silence of some moments, during which Mr. Brown 
refilled his briarwood pipe, automatically, and looked at the Httle 
bit of fire burning duUy in a rusty iron grate. 

" Mr. Brown," began Gerard abruptly, " I am a very rich man." 

" I am glad to hear it," replied Brown. " There are consolations 
in wealth which we poor men can hardly realise." 

"You have called yourself a poor man," said Gerard eagerly, 
" so you must not be angry with me if I presume to take that as a 
fact. I am rich, but my wealth is of very little use to me. I have 
had my death warrant. My time for spending money wiU soon 
be over, and my wealth must pass into other hands. I am here 
to beg your acceptance of a substantial reward for the act which 
has saved me from a burden that would have been unbearable — the 
thought that my absence from England had caused the death of the 
person who is dearer to me than any one else upon earth. Will you 
oblige me with your inkstand ? " 

He stretched his hand towards a shabby china ink-pot in which 
half a dozen much-used quills kept guard over a thimbleful of ink. 

" What are you going to do, Mr. Hanley ? " 

" I am going to write a cheque, if you will allow me — a cheque for 
five thousand pounds, payable to your order." 

"You are very good, but I am not a boatman, and I don't save 
lives for hire. I have not the faintest claim upon your purse. What 
I did for your — for Mrs. Hanley, I would have done for any love- 
sick kitchen-wench along the river. I heard a woman fall into the 
water, and I fetched her out. Do you suppose that I want to take 
money for that? " 

" You would take a big fee for doing everything short of perjuring 
yourself in order to save the neck of a ruffianly burglar," said Gerard. 

" I should do that in the way of business. It is my profession to 
defend burglars, and, short of perjurj', to make believe that they are 
innocent and lamb-hke." 

" And you will not accept this recompense from me — a trifling 
recompense as compared with my income V You will not allow me 
to think that for once in a way my wealth has been of some service 
to a good man ? " 

" I thank you for your kind opinion of me, and for your wish to 
do me a kindness, but I cannot take a gift of money from you." 

" Because you think badly of me ? " 

" I could not take a gift of money from any man who was not of 
my own blood, or so near and dear to me by fi'iendship as to nullify 
all sense of obligation." 

" But you could feel no obligation in this case, while yom- refusal 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 327 

to accept any substantial expression of my gratitude leaves me under 
the burden of a heavj'- obligation. Do you think that is generous 
on your part ? " 

" I am only certain of one thing, Mr. Hanley — I cannot accept 
any gift from you." 

" Because you have a bad opinion of me. Come, Mi*. Brown, 
between man and man, is not that your reason ? " 

"You force me to plain speech," answered the barrister. "Yes, 
that is one of my reasons. I could not take a favour from a man I 
despise, and I can have no better feeling than contempt for the man 
who could abandon a friendless and highly strung girl in the day of 
trial — leave her to break her heart, and to try to make an end of 
herself in her despair." 

"You are very ready with your summing up of my conduct. I 
was absent — granted ; but I had left Mrs. Hanley sun'ounded with 

all proper care ■ " 

" You mean you had left her with a fuU purse and three or four 
servants. Do you think that means the care due from a husband 
to a wife who is about to become a mother? You must not be 
surprised if I have formed my own opinion about you, Mr. Hanley. 
I have been up and down the river a good many times, and have 
lived for a good many days here and there at riverside inns within 
a few miles of the Rosary, and have heard a good deal of talk about 
you and yom- lovely wife — or not wife, as the case may be. The 
village gossips would have it that she was not your wife." 

" The village gossips were right. I was bound by an earlier claim, 
and I dared not marry her ; but if she and I live, and if I can release 
myself from that other claim with honour, she shall be my wife." 

" I am glad to hear that. But I doubt if your tardy reparation 
can ever efface the past." 

The man was obviously so thoroughly in earnest that even in the 
face of those shabby chambers, that well-worn shooting-jacket and 
those much-kneed trousers, Gerard could push his offer no further. 
He might have been as rich as Rothschild, and this man would have 
accepted not so much as a single piece of gold out of his treasury. 
There are men of strong feehngs and prejudices to whom money is 
not aU in all; men who are content to wear rhabby tweed and 
trousers that are bulging at the knees and frayed at the edge, and to 
sit beside a sparse fire in a rusty grate, and smoke coarse tobacco in 
an eighteen-penny pipe, so long as that inward fire of conscience 
burns bright and clear, and the silvering head can hold itself high 
in the face of mankind. 



328 Gerard ; or, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 
"the lo%tj: telvt caught strange light from death's 

OWN EYES." 

Gerard Hillersdox had no mind to occupy the cottage in which 
he had dreamed his brief love-dream, but he went to Lowcombe 
daily, and sat in the Eector's study, and heard the doctor's opinion, 
and the report of the nurses, and once on each day was admitted for 
a short time to the pretty sitting-room where Hester flitted from 
object to object with a feverish restlessness, or else sat statue-like by 
the open window gazing dreamily at churchyard or river. 

The doctor and the nm-ses told him that there was a gradual im- 
provement. The patient's nights were less wakeful, and she was 
able to take a little more nourishment. Altogether the case seemed 
hopeful, and even the violence of the earlier stages was said to 
predicate a rapid recovery. 

" If she were always as you see her just now," said Mr. Mivor, 
glancing towards the motionless figure by the window, " I should 
consider her case almost hopeless — but that hyper-activity of brain 
which alarms you is an encouraging symptom." 

The Eector was kind and sympathetic, but Gerard observed that 
Miss Gilstone avoided him. He was never shown into the drawing- 
room, but always into the Rector's study, where he felt himself shut 
out from social intercourse, as if he had been a leper. On his third 
visit he told the Rector that he %Yas anxious to thank Miss Gilstone 
for her goodness to Hester ; but the Rector shook his head dubiously. 

" Better not think about it yet awhile," he said. " My sister is 
full of prejudices. She doesn't want to be thanked. She is very 
fond of this poor girl, and she thinks j'ou have cruelly WTOnged her." 

" People seem to have made up their mmds about that," said 
Gerard. " I am not to have the benefit of the doubt." 

" People have made up their minds tliat when a lovel}' and innocent 
girl makes the sacrifice that this poor girl has made for you, a man's 
conscience should constrain him to repair the wrong he has done — 
even though social circumstances make reparation a hard thing to 
do. But in this case difference of caste could have made no barrier. 
Your victim is a lady, and no man need desire more than that." 

" There was a barrier," said Gerard. " I was bound by a promise 
to a woman who had been constant to me for years." 

" But who had not sacrificed herself for you — as this poor girl has 
done. And it was because she was a clever, hard-lieaded woman of 
the world, perhaps, and had kept her name unstained, that you 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 329 

wanted to keep your promise to her, rather than that other promise 
— at least implied — which you gave to the girl who loved you." 

Gerard was silent. What had he not promised in those impas- 
sioned hours when love was supreme ? What pledges, what vows 
had he not given his fond victim, in that conflict between love and 
honour ? She had been too generous ever to remind him of those 
passionate vows. He had chosen to cheat her, and she had sub- 
mitted to be cheated, resigned even to his abandonment of her if 
his happiness were to be found elsewhere. 

The London season had begun, and there were plenty of people 
in town who knew Gerard Hillersdon, people who would have been 
delighted to welcome him back to society after his prolonged disap- 
pearance from a world which he — or at any rate his breakfasts and 
dinners — had adorned. But Gerard was careful to let no one know 
of his return to London. The carriage gates of Hillersdon House 
■were as closely shut as when the master of the house was in Italy, 
and Mr. HiUersdon's only visitor entered by an insignificant 'garden 
door which opened into a shabby street at the back of the premises. 
This visitor was Justin Jermyn, the confidant and companion whose 
society was in some wise a necessity to Gerard since his shattered 
nerves had made solitude impossible. They dined together every night, 
talked, smoked, and idled in a dreamy silence, and played piquet for an 
hour or two after midnight. The money he "won at cards was the only 
money that JermjTi had ever taken from his millionaire friend ; but 
he was an exceptionally fine player, Gerard a careless one, and the 
stakes were high, whereby his winnings made a respectable revenue. 

Gerard found Jermj-n waiting for him when he returned, saddened 
and disheartened, from Lowcombe Rectory. Jermyn was sprawling 
on a sofa in the winter-garden, with his head deep in a leviathan 
pillow, and his legs in the air. 

" There is a letter for you," he said, between two lazy puffs at a 
large cigar, " a letter from Florence — after Ovid, no doubt. Dido 
to Aeneas!" 

"Why didn't you open it if you were curious? " sneered Gerard. "It 
would be no worse form than to pry into the address and postmark." 

" There was no necessity; you are sure to tell me all about it." 

The letter was from Mrs. Champion, and a thick letter, that lady 
scorning such small economy as the lessening of postage by the use 
of foreign paper. 

" Vci DEAR Gerahd, — I think my letter of last night may have pre- 
pared you in some degree for the letter I find myself constrained to 



330 Gerard; or, 

write to-day. I might have hesitated longer, perhaps, tad you been 
BtOl at my side, might have trifled with your fate and mine, might have 
allowed myself to drift into a marriage which I am now assured could 
result in happiness neither for you nor me. The days are past in which 
you and I were all in all to each other. We are good friends still, 
shall be good friends, I hope, as long as we live ; but why should 
friends marry, when they are happy in unfettered friendship ? 

" You hurried departure makes my task easier ; and should make 
the continuation of our friendship easier. When we meet again let 
us meet as friends, and forget that we have ever been more than 
friends. Day by day, and hour by hour, since you came to Florence 
it has been made clearer to my mind that we have both changed 
since last year. We are not to blame, Gerard, neither you nor I. 
The glamour has gone out of our Hves somehow — we are ' the same 
and not the same.' I have seen coldness and despondency in vou 
where all was once warmth and hope, and I confess that a coldness 
in my own heaii; responds to the chill that has come over yours. 
If we were to many we should be miserable, and should perhaps 
come to hate each other before very long. If we are frank and 
straightforward, and true to each other at this crisis of our hves we 
need never be lessened in each other's esteem. 

"I know that I have read your heart as truly as I have read my 
own ; I do not, therefore, appeal to you for pardon. My release will 
be your release. Be as frank with me, my dear Gerard, as I have been 
■with you, and send me a few friendly lines to assure me of kindly 
feeling towards your ever faithful friend, — Edith Chajipiox." 

A deathlike chill crept through Gerard's veins as he read this 
letter to the end. The release as a release was welcome, but the 
imderlying meaning of the letter, the feeling which had prompted it, 
cut him to the quick. 

" She saw death in my face that first day at Florence," he told 
himself. "I could not mistake her look of horrified surprise, of 
repulsion almost, when I stood unexpectedly before her. She was 
able to hide her feehngs afterwards, but in that moment love 
perished. She saw a change in me that changed her at once and 
for ever. I was not the Gerard HiUersdon of whom she had 
thought, and for whom she had waited. The man who stood before 
her was a stranger marked for death ; a doomed wretch cUnginf to 
the hem of her garments to keep him from the grave — an embodied 
misery. Can I wonder that her heart changed to the man whom 
Death had changed? " 

He read the letter a second time, slowly and thoughtfully. Yes, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 331 

lie could read between the lines. He had gone to his old love as 
an escape from death— a flight to sunnier skies, as the swallows fly 
to Africa. He had thought that somehow in that association with 
fresh and joyous hfe, he would escape out of the jaws of death, 
renew his boyish love, and with that renewal of youthful emotions 
renew youth itself. He had cheated himself with this hope when he 
turned his face towards Florence ; but the woman he had loved, that 
embodiment of life and happiness, would have none of him. 

Well, it was better so. He was free to pick up the broken 
thread of that nearer, dearer, far more enthralling love— if he could. 
If he could ! Can broken threads be united ? He thought of his 
child — his mm-dered child — murdered by his abandonment of the 
mother. No act of his — no tardy reparation — could brmg back 
that lost life. Even if Fate were kind, and Hester's health and 
reason were restored, that loss was a loss for ever, and would 
overshadow the mother's life to the end. 

He knew that he was dying, that for Hester and him there could 
be no second summer of happy, unreasoning love. The meadow 
flowers would blossom again ; the river would go ripplmg past lawn 
and willowy bank under the September sun ; but his feet would not 
tread the ripe grasses, his voice would not break the quiet of that 
lonely backwater where Hester and he had dreamt their dream of a 
world in which there was neither past nor future, neither fear nor 
care, only ineffable love. 

Jermyn watched him keenly as he walked up and down the open 
space between a bank of vivid tulips and a cluster of palms. 

"Yom- letter seems to have troubled you," he said, at last. 
"Does she scold you for havmg run away just before your wedding? 
To-day was to have been the day, by-the-by." 

" No, she is very kind — and very patient. She will wait till it 
suits me to go back." 

" That wiU be next week, I suppose ? You have done all you 
can do at Lowcombe. The Jersey Lily will suit you better than 
this house — delightful as it is — -and Spezia or Sorrento will be a 
safer climate than London in May." 

" I am in no hurry to go back — and I doubt if climate can make 
any difference to me." 

" There you are wrong. The air a man breathes is of paramount 
importance." 

"I will hear what my doctor says upon that point. In the 
meantime I can vegetate here." 

He dined with Justin Jermyn. No one else knew that he was in 
London. He had not announced his return even to his sister, 



332 Gerard ; or, 

sbrinkirig with a sense of pain from any meeting with that happy 
young matron, who was so full of the earnest realities of life, and 
who on their last meeting had asked such searching questions about 
her missing friend Hester, whether there was anjlhing that she or 
her husband could do to find out the secret of her disappearance. 
She had reminded her brother that Jack Cumberland was the 
servant of Him who came to seek and to save those that were lost, 
and that even if Hester's footsteps had wandered from the right 
way, it was so much the more his duty to find her. Gerard had 
answered those eager questionings as best he might, or had left 
them unanswered ; but he felt that in the present state of things he 
could scarcely endure to hear Hester's name, and that the mask 
must drop if he were called upon to talk about his victim. 

Hester's attempted suicide, and the drowning of her child had 
not been made a local scandal, and bandied about in the newspapers. 
The fact was too unimportant to attract the attention of a metro- 
politan reporter, and Mr. Gilstone's wishes had been law to the 
editors of the two or three papers which usually concerned them- 
selves with the affairs of Lowcombe and other villages within 
twenty miles of Reading. Gerard's domestic tragedy had therefore 
been unrecorded by the public Press. 

The two young men went upstairs after dinner to smoke and 
loun"-e in the rooms which Gerard had copied from those unfor- 
gotten chambers in the old Inn. Here they usually sat of an evening, 
when they were alone ; and it was here that most of those games of 
piquet had been played, the result of which had been to supply Justin 
Jermyn with a conifortable income without impoverishing the less 
successful player. But to-night Gerard was in no mood for piquet. 
His nerves were strained, and his brain was fevered. The game, 
which had generally a tranquillising influence, to-night only worried 
him. He threw his cards upon the table in a sudden fretfulness. 

"It's no use," he said. '' I hardly know what I am doing. I'll 
play no more." 

lie rose impatiently, and began to walk about the room, then 
stopped abruptly before a Japanese curtain, which hung against the 
panelling, and plucked it aside. 

" Do you know what that is ? " he asked, pointing to the sheet of 
drawing-paper scrawled with pen and ink lines. 

" It looks as if it were meant for an outline map. Your idea of Italy, 
perhaps, or Africa — drawn from memory, and not particularly like." 

" It is my^eatt de chagrin — the talisman that shows the shrinking 
of vital force — vital force meaning life itself— and thus marks the 
swift passage to the grave. You see the outer line of all. Tolerably 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 333 

firm and free, is it not? Scarcely drawn by the hand of a Hercules, 
yet with no mark of actual feebleness. You see the inner lines, 
each following each, weaker and more irresolute, the last tremulous 
as a signature made on a beath-bed." 

He snatched a pen from the table near him, and dipped it in the 
ink, then made a dash at the chart, and tried to follow the outer 
line with a bolder sweep, but his arm was too weak to bear the 
strain of the upward position, and the pen ran down the paper with 
a single swift descending stroke, till it touched the outermost edge, 
then glanced oft" and dropped from the loosening hand. 

"Do you see that?" he cried, with a burst of hysterical 
laughter. " The line goes down — straight as a falling star — as the 
life goes down to the grave." 

" Come, come, my dear fellow, this is all womanish nonsense," said 
Jermyn, with his smooth, soranolentvoice, in whose sound there was 
a sense of comfort, as in the falling of summer rain. " You are tired. 
L'e down on this delightful sofa, and let me talk you to sleep." 

He laid his hand on Gerard's shoulder with a friendly movement, 
and drew or led him to the capacious old Italian sofa, with its 
covering made of priesth' vestments, still rich in delicate colouring, 
despite the sunlight and dust of centuries. Brain weary, and weak 
in body, Gerard sank on that luxurious couch, as Endymion on a 
bed of flowers, and the soft, slow music of Jermyn's voice — talking 
of the yacht, and the harbours where they two were to anchor 
along the shores of the Mediterranean — was potent as mandragora 
or moly. He sank into a delicious sleep — the first restful sleep he 
had known since he had left Florence. 

It was ten o'clock when he fell asleep, and it was past eleven 
when he woke suddenly, his mind filled with one absorbing thought. 

" My will ! " he said ; " I have made no will. If I were to die suddenly 
— and with a weak heart who can tell when death may come — I should 
die intestate. That would be horrible. I have settled something — • 
but not much ; not enough " — this to himself, rather than to Jermyn, 
who sat quietly beside the sofa, watching him. " I must make a will." 

No such thought had been in his mind before he fell asleep ; no 
idea of any such necessity. If he had thought — as a millionaire 
must think — of the disposal of his money, he had told himself that 
were he to die intestate his father would inherit everything, and 
that having provided for Hester's future by a deed of trust, it 
mattered little whether he made a will or not. A few casual 
friends would be cheated of expected legacies — but that mattered 
little. He had no friends^ — not even this umbra of his, Justin 
Jermyn — whose disappointment mattered to him. But to-night his 



334 Gerard; or, 

■whole mind was absorbed in the necessity of disposing of his fortune. 
He was fevered Avith impatience to get the thing done. 

" Give me a sheet of that large paper," he said, pointing to hk 
\yritin£:-table. " I will make mv will at once. You and a servant 
can witness it. A holograph will is as good as any, and there is no 
one who could attack my will." 

" I hope j"OU won't ask me to witness the document," said Jermyn, 
laj'ing a quire of large Bath Post before Gerard, with inkstand and 
blotter, " for that would mean that you are not going to leave me so 
much as a curio or a mourning ring." 

" True — I must leave you something. I'll leave you your own 
likeness — the faun yonder," said Gerard, looking up at the bust, the 
laughing lips in marble seeming to repeat JermjTi's broad smUe. 

"You must leave me something better than that. I am as poor 
as Job, and if I outlive you where will be my winnings at piquet? 
Leave me the scrapings of your money bags. Make me residuary 
legatee, after you have disposed of your fortune. The phrase will mean 
very little, though it sounds big — but there must be some scrapings." 

Gerard opened an enamelled casket, a master work of the cinque- 
cento goldsmiths, and took out a long slip of paper, the schedule of 
his possessions, a catalogue of stocks and shares, in his o-mi neat 
penmanship. A glance along this row of figures showed him where 
his wealth lay, and with this slip of paper spread on the table before 
him he began to write. 

To my father, the Reverend Edward Hillersdon, Rector of Helms- 
leigh, in Consols, so much, in South- Western Ordinary Stock — in 
Great Western — Great Eastern — Great Northern, so much, and so 
much, and so much, till he had disposed of the first million, Justin 
Jermyn standing by his side and looking doAvn at him, with his 
hand on his shoulder. 

He no longer wrote the small neat hand which had once penned 
a popular love-storj', and almost made its OAvner a name in literature. 
To-night, in his fever and hurry of brain, his writing sprawled large 
over the page — the first page was covered with the mere preliminary 
statement of sound mind, etc., etc., and his father's name. Then 
came the list of securities, covering three other pages — then to my 
sister Lilian, wife of John Cumberland, vicar of St. Lawrence, Soho, 
and then another list of securities — then to my mother, all my 
furniture, pictures, plate, in my house at Knightsbridge, with the 
exception of the marble faun in my study — then to my beloved 
friend, Hester Davenport, fifty thousand pounds in Consols, and my 
house and grounds at Lowcombe, with all contents thereof — and, 
finally, to Justin Jermyn. whom I appoint residuary legatee, the 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 335 

marble faun. One after another, as the pages were finished in the 
large hurried penmanship, Justin Jermyn picked them up, and dried 
them at the wood fire. The nights were chilly, though May had 
begun, and Gerard's sofa had been drawn near the hearth. 

It was on the stroke of midnight when the will was ready for signature. 

" Kindly ring, Jermyn. My valet will be up, of course, and most 
of the other servants, perhaps, for this is a dissipated house. I hear 
them creeping up to bed at midnight very often when I am sitting 
quietly here. The servants' staircase is at this end of the house." 

" Talking of staircases, you haven't left Larose so much as a curio," 
said Jermj-n, as he pressed a bronze knob beside the mantelpiece. 

"Why should I leave him anything? He has made plenty of 
money out of this house. Do you think I want to give him a 
pleasant half-hour, when I am in my grave ? " 

'• I thought you liked him." 

"I like no one, in the face of death," answered Gerard fiercely. 
" Do you think I can love the men whose lives are long — who are 
to go on living and enjoying for the greater part of a centurj-, 
perhaps, to be recorded approvingly in the Times obituary, after 
drinking the wine of Ufe for ninety years, ' We regret to announce the 
death of Archdeacon So-and-so, in his eighty-ninth year ' ? Regrets 
for a man of eighty-nine ! And you think that I, who am doomed 
to die before I am thirty, can feel kindly towards the long-lived of 
my species ! Why should one man have so much, and I so httle ? " 

" Why should one man be an agi'icultural labourer with fifteen 
shillings a week for his highest wage, while you have two millions ? " 

"Money! Money is nothing! Life is the only thing that is 
precious. Death is the only thing that is horrible." 

" True ; and I doubt if the man of ninety is any more in love 
with death than you are at nine-and-twenty." 

" Oh, but he is worn out ; he must know that. The machine has 
done its work, and perishes of fair wear and tear. It doesn't go to 
pieces suddenly because of a flaw in the metal. I grant that it is 
a hideous thought that life should end — ever; that this Ego, so 
strong, so distinct, so vivid and all-absorbing, should go out with 
a snap into unknown darkness; but to die young, to die before 
wrinkles and grey hairs, to die while hfe is still fresh and beautiful 
— that is hard. I almost hate my own father when I think by how 
many golden years he may survive me, and revel in this wealth that 
was mine. They wOl make him a bishop, perhaps. Who knows ? 
A rich man must always be a power in the Church. My father 
would make an admirable bishop. He will live as long as Martin 
Routh, I dare say — live on into the new century, opulent, portly, 



336 Gerard; or, 

benevolent, happy — T\-liile T am nothing ! Oh, think how hard these 
diSerences are ! Think of Shelley's heart turned to dust under the 
Btone in the Roman gi-avej'ard, and Shelley's friend living for sixty 
years after him, to lie down tired and full of years beside him who 
went out in water and flame, like the bright wild spirit he was." 

Jermyn laid his hand upon him soothingly, yet with something of 
imperiousness. " Be calm," he said ; " you have to sign these sheets." 

The door opened, and the valet whose duty it was to answer his 
master's bell in the late evening came quietly into the room. 

" Are there any of the servants still up ? " asked Jerm}'n. 

" Burton has not gone to bed yet, sir." 

'• Then ask Burton to come here with you to witness some papers, 
lie is sober enough to remember what he does, I suppose? " 

"Sober, sir? Yes, sir; I never saw Burton otherwise," replied 
the valet, with dignity. 

" Be quick, then," said Jermyn. " Your master is waiting." 

His master waited very patiently, with fixed and dreamy eyes, 
his hand lying loose upon the first sheet of the will, as Jermra had 
placed it before him. Jermyn stood at his elbow, holding the other 
leaves of the will in his left hand, while his right rested lightly upon 
Gerard's shoulder. 

The valet returned, accompanied by the butler, who looked 
solemn, and was careful to abstain from speech. 

He stood at attention, breathing brandy, but the penmanship with 
which he witnessed his master's signature, as the sheets were signed 
one after another, was not illegible. 

The valet signed with a steady hand and a bold front. He, too, 
had been drinking heavily, but he had a more dehcate taste in 
liquors than his fellow-servant. 

" You may as well understand the nature of this document," said 
Jermyn to the witnesses, " but it is not legally necessary that you 
should do so. It is your master's 'w-ill. The only will you have 
made, I think, Hillersdon," he added, with his hand still lying upon 
Gerard's shoulder, a large hand, with abnormal length of finger, and 
deadly white. 

" It is tlie only will I have made," Gerard said slowly. 

" Or intend to make." 

'• Or intend to make," replied Gerard. 

" You can go," said Jermyn to the men; "I am to sleep here 
to-night, by the way." 

"Yes, sir. Your room is ready. I have put out your things." 

JeiTiiyn had been stiiying in the house since his return from Italy, 
but in a casual way, and he had daily talked of going to his own 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. ■x^'i,'] 

chambers. He had rooms somewhere in the neighbourhood of 
Piccadill}', but rarely imparted the secret of his address, and had 
never been known to entertain anybody except at a chib. Gerard's 
single experience of his hospitality had been that after-midnight 
Bupper in the chambers eastward of Lincoln's Inn. 

"You are very tired, my dear fellow," said JermjTi, when the 
servants were gone. " You had better lie down again." 

Gerard rose out of his chair, leaving the loose sheets of Bath Post 
Iving on the table, without so much as a look at them, and Jermyn 
slipped an arm through his and led him back to the sofa, where he sank 
down with closing eyelids, and was deep asleep a few moments later. 

Jermyn took up the loose pages, folded them carefully, put them 
in an inner pocket of his dinner jacket, and went out of the room. 
The valet was waiting on the landing. 

" Your master has fallen asleep on the sofa," said Jermyn. " He 
seems very much exhausted, and I think you had better let him 
stay there all night rather than disturb him. You can put a rug over 
him, and leave him till the morning. He is not ill, only tired. I'll 
look in upon him now and then in the night. I'm a very light sleeper." 

The valet paused, anxious to get to bed, yet doubtful. 

'■ Do you really think he will require nothing, sir? " 

'• Nothing but sleep. He is thoroughly worn out. A long night's 
rest will do wonders for him." 

The valet submitted to a friendly authority. Mr. Jermyn wore his 
hair very short, had a scientific air, and w^as doubtless half a doctor. 
The valet went to look at his master, and covered him carefully 
with a soft Indian rug. Certainly that deep and peaceful sleep was 
not to be rudely broken. It was a sleep that might mean healing. 

Itwas ten o'clock next morning before Gerard awoke. Mr. Jermyn 
had gone into the study several times during the night, but at ten he 
left the house, and it was only as the outer door closed upon him that 
Gerard began to stir in his sleep, and presently opened his eyes and 
got up, Avondering to see the morning sunlight stealing through the 
Venetian shutters, and making golden bars upon the sombre carpet. 

He looked at the clock. Ten, and broad daylight. He had slept 
nine hours, yet with no consciousness of more than the light and 
brief slumber of a man who throws himself upon his sofa for a 
casual nap. A sleep without dreams — a mere gap in life — that 
blank and idealess slumber which Socrates declared to be the 
equivalent of supremest earthly bliss. 

"I never slept so many hours on end in my life," he said to 
himself, almost appalled at his abnormal slumber. 

He looked about the room, slowly recalling the events of yester- 

z 



338 Gerard ; or, 

day. His journey to Lowcorabe, his return to town, the letter from 
Edith Champion. 

He felt in his pocket for the letter. Yes, it was there. He read it a 
third time hurriedly. He wanted to be sure that he was a free man. 

"Free as air," he told himself, "whistled down the wind to prey 
at fortune. Free to marry the woman I love — free to set right her 
wrongs," 

To right her wrongs ! Could he bring his drowned child back to 
life — could he heal the mother's shattered brain? Such wrongs 
can never be righted. The scar they leave is deadly. 

He thought over the words of Edith's letter, so cold in their 
hard common-sense; and then he recalled his own image as he 
had seen it in the glass that first afternoon in the Florentine villa. 
That face of his, with death written upon it, was enough to scare 
away love. He was contemptuous and angry as he thought of that 
summer-time love ; so exacting, so jealous, so insistent, while the 
sun of life and youth rode high in the cloudless heaven ; so quick 
to faint and fail when the shadows fell. 

Of the will made at midnight he had not a moment's thought. 
Upon that point memory was a blank. Nor did he make any 
inquiry about Jermyn. He dressed, breakfasted, and was on the 
way to Lowcombe before noon. 

There was no change in the patient, but the doctor was not 
unhopeful. Progress must needs be slow, and it was well if there 
were no retrograde steps. 

" Time is now the only healer we can look to," said Mr. Mivor. 

There was a considerable change in the Kector after half an 
liour's confidential talk with Gerard; and Miss Gilstono, who 
hitherto had kept herself out of Mr. Hillersdon's way, received him 
in her drawing-room, and talked with him for more than an hour, 
graciously accepting his thanks for all her goodness to Hester. 

" Be assured I would have done as much for the poorest girl in 
the parish, if her sorrows had appealed to me as Hester's did," 
said Miss Gilstone, " but I don't mind confessing that her beauty 
and her sweetness have made a profound impression upon me. 
Poor soul, even in her worst hours every word she spoke helped to 
show us the gentleness and purity of her nature. I could but think 
of what Ophelia's brother said of his sister, 

' Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, 
She turns to favour, and to prettiness.' 

Oh, Mr. Hanley, it would bo an awful thought for you in after 
years to have led such a girl astray, and not to have made the 
utmost reparation in your power." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 339 

"It would have been — it is an awful thought," Gerard answered 
dejectedly. " My only desire now is that I may live long enough 
to make Hester my wife. The day she first recognises me, the day 
tjhe is in her right mind, I am ready to marry her. The Rector 
has asked me to be his guest, so that I may know how she pro- 
gresses hour by hour. Shall I be in your way. Miss Gilstone, if I 
venture to accept his invitation? " 

" In my way ? No, indeed. As if any one my brother likes to 
ask could ever be in my way. Why, he and I have never had two 
opinions about anything or anybody in our Hves. "We are not like 
the husbands and wives, who seldom seem to think alike." 

"Then I may stay?" 

"Of com-se you may. Your room is being got ready; and we 
can put up your servant if you like to bring him." 

" You are too good ; but I have no need of a servant. I shall 
not impose upon your kindness further than by my own presence." 

He saimtered in the churchyard with the Rector during the 
balmy hour before sunset, and in that hour he told Mr. Gilstone his 
name and his history, frankly and fully, holding back nothing of 
foil}' or selfishness, greed of pleasm-e or greed of wealth. 

" Do not thiuk too meanly of me if I confess to having envied my 
rich fi-iends their wealth, at the University and in the world. Tho 
greed of gold is the vice of the age we live in. The air is charged 
with bullion. All life is flavoured with the follies and extravagances 
of the newly rich. Everything is given and forgiven to the miUionaire. 
For one Nero, with his Golden House, we have Neros by the score, 
and whole streets of golden houses. For one Lucullus we have an 
army of dinner-givers, at whose tables the parasite fattens. It is 
not possible for a young man to hve in the stress and turmoil of 
London society and not hanker after gold as the one supreme good, 
and not ache with the pangs of povertj'. The time came when I 
meant to blow my brains out, because it was better to be dead and 
dust than ahve and poor. And on that day of despair Fortune turned 
her wheel, and behold ! I was a double milUonaire. But scarcely had 
I tasted the rapture of wealth before I was told that my life was not 
worth two years' purchase ; and from that hoiu: to this I have lived 
with one dark spectre always at my elbow." 

"I have seen so many peaceful death-beds that I can hardly 
reahse the fear of death," said the Rector, "any more than I can 
conceive the fear of sleep." 

" Ah, but the everlasting sleep, that's the rub. Not the dreams 
that Hamlet talks about, but the dreamless blank ! ' This sensible 
warm motion to become a kneaded clod ! ' To give up everything! " 







40 Gerard; or, 



" Hard indeed, if we had no hope of fairer worlds." 
" A hope ! A mirage," Mr. Gilstone. I can fully understand that 
it is your duty, as a minister of the Gospel, to hold that mirage 
before the dj-ing eyes of your parishioners. But do you mean to 
tell me, after your long life of knowledge and of thought, that the 
fantastic vision of an after-world can be any comfort to you? 
Where is the link that can unite the dwindling dust below those 
gTave-stones with other planets or with future time ? New worlds 
and fairer there may be ; new stars may teem with beings of grander 
frame.and nobler minds than ours, star after star, in endless evolution, 
till there be worlds peopled with gods ; but for me, for you, for this 
dust here, there is nothing more. We have no more account in those 
glories to come than last summer's butterflies have. We have had 
our day. Do you remember how Csesar urged that Cataline and his 
followers should be punished in their lives, not by death, since 
death is only the release from suffering, and beyond death there is 
no place either of joy or sorrow ? And you think because ninety 
years after Csesar spoke those words a village carpenter, gifted 
beyond the average of highly gifted humanity, codified the purest 
system of morals ever revealed to man, and threw out random 
hints of a future existence, and because in after-generations tradition 
ascribed to this gifted man a miraculous return from death to life — 
you think, because Jesus talked of a day of judgment and an after- 
world, that the stern truths of science and fact are to weigh as 
nothing against those vague promises of a rustic teacher ? " 

" My dear friend, I will not admit that science has all the strongest 
arguments on her side, and that faith can only sit with folded hands 
and wait — 

' The Shadow, cloak'd from head to foot, 
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds ; ' 

but I am no dialectician, and will not attempt to argue against the 
barren creed which modern metaphysicians give out with as much 
delight as if they wore bringing us new hopes instead of trying to 
kill the old ones. I will only say, as St. Paul said, ' If in this life 
only we have hoi)e in Christ we are of all men most miserable.' " 

" St. Paul was a dreamer and an enthusiast ; just the right man 
to make a new religion ; an intellectual force, gi'eat enough to 
cliange the face of Europe, and last nineteen hundred years. But 
I fear the axe is laid to the root of the tree, and that before the 
twentieth century is sped Christianity will be at best a State 
religion — a system of ceremonials and embroidered vestments, as it 
was in Pagan, as it is in Papal Kome." 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 34 1 

The tranquil monotony of life at Lowcombe Rectory was not 
unpleasing to Gerard. His health was too weak for London 
pleasures. It suited him best to spend his days in a dreamy 
idleness, nursing his shrunken stock of ^^tality as the poor sempstress 
nurses her tiny fire, lest the pitiful half hundred of coal should burn 
too quickly. He was glad to be away from the gay world, and 
from the house whose splendours and luxuries had long palled upon 
him. Here, at least, he had rest. Even the rustic simplicity of 
his surroundings had a soothing influence, recalling his childish 
daj's in the old parsonage beside the mouth of the Exe. Here he 
Avas at peace, and here he was able to face the inevitable ■with more 
resimation than he had felt hitherto. 

He knew that he had not long to live. He had seen Dr. SoTith 
once again since his return to England, and had heard the verdict 
which he meant to be final. He would question science no more, 
since science could do so Httle for him, giving him at most certain 
rules of dietary, and a prescription which any village druggist could 
make up. He had to face a future which might be but a few weeks, 
or which, if he were careful, and Fate and climate were kind, 
might be spun out yet a little longer. 

Here, sauntering by the river on the bright May mornings, he 
was able to plan that remnant of life, as it was to be spent when 
Hester should be restored to health and reason, and might go with 
him where he pleased. He would not lose an hour in making her 
his lawful wife, and then he would take her to Spezia as fast as boat 
and train could carry them, and instal her in the luxurious nest which 
had been prepared for another bride. And then they two would 
sail away together to the fairest shores of the fair inland sea, and so, 
death kept at bay to the utmost, should at last come upon him with 
gentlest aspect, and find liim in his wife's fond arms, her tender hand 
wiping the last dews from his brow, her kisses on his darkening eyelids. 

He rcAisited some of the old spots where he had walked with 
Hester in the late summer time of last year, and these rambles gave 
him only too just a measure of his vanishing strength. The fields 
over which he had trodden so lightly last September seemed now an 
impossible journey. He was fain to haunt the willowy bank between 
the churchyard and the Rosarj', a distance of less than a mile. This 
marked the limit of his power, and he had often to rest in the Rosary 
garden before he could attempt the walk back to the Rectory. . 

The garden was in perfect order, as in the days when Hester had 
moved about it, " Queen rose of the roses." Everything was to be 
kept as it had been under her brief tenancy of the house that he had 
bought for her. She might wish to go back there some day, despite 



342 Gerard; or, 

all that she had suffered within those walls. In any case it was her 
home, and he desired that it should be kept in order for her. In all 
this time he had ignored his own kindred. His mother and father, 
Lilian and her husband knew nothing of his return to England. He 
meant to see his sister again, were it only for half an hour, before he 
went back to Italy ; but he did not want to see her until Hester was 
his wife, and he could bring sister and wife together. He wanted 
to secure this one faithful friend for Hester before he died. 

At last, after a long month of hope and expectancy, the happy 
chance came. Hester's wearied brain slowly awakened from its 
troubled sleep, and memory and recognition of familiar faces came 
back one summer morning with the opening of the June roses that 
clustered about her window. 

" Gerard," she cried, looking up at him affectionately, as he stood 
beside her chair, where he had so often waited for the faintest sign 
of returning memory. "You have come back from Italy at last! 
How long you have been away ! How dreadfully long ! " 

He sat with her for an hour talking of indifferent things. Memory 
came back gradually. It was not till the next day that she remem- 
bered her father's death, and the doctor hoped that the night of her 
wandering by the river, and the loss of her baby, would be blotted 
out. But that was not to be. As her mind recovered its balance, 
the memory of all she had suffered and done in the long hours of 
delirium came back with agonising distinctness. She remembered 
the watchful care of her nurses, which had seemed to her a cruel 
tjTanny. She remembered creeping out of the house, and through 
the darkness of the dewy garden, and along by the river, to that 
fivourite spot where she and Gerard had spent so many happy hours. 
She remembered how she had thought that death was best for her 
and for her child, the one refuge from a world in which no one 
loved them or wanted them, she a deserted mistress, he a nameless 
child. She remembered the plunge in the darkness, the buoyant 
feeling of the Avater as it wrapped her round — and then no more, 
except the monotony of quiet days and kindly faces, sunlit rooms 
and sweet-scented flowers at the Rectory, a time in which she had 
for the most part fancied herself a child again, sinless, happy, full of 
childish thoughts. 



-■o 



They were married in the shadowy old parish church at half-past 
eight o'clock one June morning, Hester, pale and wan, but with a 
delicate loveliness which ill-health could not spoil. She was dressed 
in a grey tweed gown, aud neat little hat, ready for a long journey. 
Gerard was flushed and anxious-looking, hollow-eyed and hollow- 
cheeked, and far more nervous than his wife. 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 343 

They drove from the church to the station on their way to 
London, charged -svith many blessings from the Kector and his 
sister, who, with the parish clerk, had alone witnessed the ceremony. 

" She is fast your wife," quoted the Eector, " the finest choral 
service in "Westminster Abbey could not make the bond any stronger." 

Gerard had telegraphed to his sister to meet him at luncheon at Hil- 
lersdon House, where he and Hester arrived between twelve and one. 

He spent the hour before Lilian's arrival in showing Hester his house. 

" It is yours now," he said, " yours as much as the Eosary, which 
I bought to be your plaything. It will be yours for many a year, I 
hope, when I am at rest." 

She gave him a heart-rending look. Could he think that this 
splendour would comfort her when he was gone — or that she could 
ever cease to think of him and of her child — the child her madness 
tiad sacrificed ? She would not pain him by one mournful word, on 
this day above all other days, when he had done all that he could 
do to give her back her good name. She went with him from room 
to room, praising his taste, admiring this and that, till she came to 
his sanctum on the upper floor. 

She had scarcely crossed the threshold when she saw the faun, 
and gave a little cry of disgust. 

" Mr. JermjTi," she said. 

*' Only a chance likeness — but a good one, ain't it ? " 

" Why do you have his likeness in your room ? It is an odious 
face, and he is a hateful man. I cannot understand how you could 
ever have chosen him for your friend." 

" He has never been my friend, Hester. I have no friend but Mr. 
Gilstone. That old man is the first person from whom I have ex- 
perienced real friendliness since I became a millionaire. Jermynhas 
been my companion — an amusing companion — and I have never 
found any harm in him." 

Hester looked at everything with fond interest. It was here he 
had lived before he knew her. It was this luxurious nest he had 
left for his riverside home with her. She looked at the books, and 
the curios on the carved oak cabinet, bronzes, ivories, jade ; and 
finally stopped before a curtain of Japanese embroidery, which hung 
against the panelling. 

" Is there a picture behind this curtain," she asked, " a pictm^e 
which no one must look at without permission ? " 

" No, it is not a picture. You may look, if you hke, Hester. I 
have no secrets from the other half of my soul." 

Hester drew back the curtain, and saw a large sheet of drawing- 
paper, scrawled over with black lines, conspicuous among them a 
long downward sweep of the pen, thick and blurred. 



'> 



44 Gerard ; or, 



" What a curious tting ! " she cried. " 'UTiat does it mean ? " 

" It is the chart of my hfe, Hester. The downward stroke means 
the end." 

He ripped the sheet off the panel upon which it had been neatly 
fastened with tiny copper naUs, and then tore it into firagments and 
liung them into the waste-paper basket. 

'• I am reconcOed to the end, Hester," he said softly, as she clung 
to him, hiding her tears upon his shoulder, " now that you and I are 
together — will be together to the last." 

He heard Lilian's step upon the stair, and in another minute she 
was in the room, looking at Hester in glad astonishment. 

" Hester ! He has found you then, and all is well," cried Lilian ; 
*• but, oh, my poor dear, how pale and wan you are looking ! Has 
the world gone so badly with you since we met ? " 

" Ask her no questions, Lilian, but take her to your heart as your 
sister and my wife." 

" Your wife — since when, Gerard ? " 

" That is a needless question. She is my wife — my loved and 
honoured wife." 

Lilian looked at him wonderingly for a moment. Yes, he was in 
earnest, evidently, and this union of which she had never dreamed 
was an actualitj'. She turned to Hester without a word and kissed her. 

" You shall be to me as a sister," she said gently, " and I will not 
ask you what troiible has made you so sad and pale, or why my 
brother has kept his marriage a secret from me until to-day." 

After this they went downstairs to luncheon, a luncheon at which 
but little was eaten, yet which was the happiest meal Gerard had 
shared in for many a day. That shadow of the past which darkened 
Hester's life touched him but lightly. For him the future was so 
brief that the past mattered very little. He could not feel any 
poignant regret for the child whose face he had never seen ; for had 
that child lived his part in the young fresh life would have been too 
brief to reckon. The son could have never known a father's love. 

They left for Turin by the evening train, Lilian only parting with 
them at the station, where the two pale faces vanished from her 
view, side by side. One of those faces slie had faintest hope of ever 
seeing again in this world. 

EPILOGUE. 

The London season was waning, and Justin Jerrayn was beginning 
to talk about taking his cure — of nothing particular — in tlie 
PjTcnees. when the gossips of those favourite literary, artistic, 



The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 345 

and social clubs, the Sensorium and the Heptachord, were interested 
by a brief announcement in the Times list of deaths. 

" On July 19th, on board the Jev&ey Lily, at Corfu, Gerard 
liillersdon, aged 29." 

" So that is the end of Hillersdon's luck," said Larose, " and one 
of the most live-able houses in London will come into the market. 
It is only a year and a half since it was finished, and we spent his 
money like water, I can assure you. We could hardly spend it fast 
enough to please him. The sensation was delicious from its novelty." 
"What was his luck? Got a million or so left him for picking 
up an old chap's umbrella, wasn't it ? " 

" No ; he saved the old man's life, and almost missed the fortune 
by not picking up the umbrella." 

" Mr. Jermyn loses a useful friend. He was always about with 
Hillersdon. And who gets all the money? Or did Hillersdon 
contrive to run through it ? " 

" Not he," said a gentleman of turfy tastes. " He was a poor 
creature, and I don't believe he ever backed a horse from the day 
he left Oxford. Such a man couldn't spend a million, much less 
two millions. He was the sort of fellow who would economise and 
live upon the interest of his money. Those are not the men who 
make history." 

" He began his career as a scribbler," said some one else. 
" Wrote a sentimental story, and set all the women talking about 
him, and then took to writing for the papers, and was in very low 
water when he came into his millions." 

" He ought to have run a theatre," said another. 
" Not he ! The man didn't know how to spend money. He 
was distinguished in nothing." 

" He gave most delightful breakfasts," said Larose. 
"Yes, to half a dozen fellows who talk fine, like you and Reuben 
Gambler. I say he was a poor creature, upon whom good luck was 
wasted." 

This was the final verdict of the smoking-room. The dead man 
had wasted golden opportunities. 

It was on the same day that Mr. Grafton, of Messrs. Grafton and 
Cranberry, Lincoln's Inn Fields, received a visitor, who called by 
appointment, made by telegraph that morning. The visitor was 
Justin Jermyn, whom Mr. Grafton had met only once in his life at 
a dinner given by his client, Gerard Hillersdon. , 

The solicitor received Mr. Jermyn with grave cordiality, the 
recent death of an important client demanding an air of suppressed 
mournfulness. 



346 Gerard ; or, 

" Sad news from Corfu," said Jermyn. " You saw the announce- 
ment in the Times, of course ? " 

" Yes ; but it was not news to me. I had a telegram within two 
hours of the event — which was not imexpected. Our chent has 
been slowly fading out of life ever since he left England in June. 
You have not been yachting with him, Mr. Jermyn ? " interrogatively. 
"No; I have AVi-itten to him two or three times offering myself 
for a short cruise. It was I who bought the yacht for him, and 
superintended her fitting out. But his rephes were brief, and " — 
with something of his famihar laugh, subdued to meet the circum- 
stances — " he evidently didn't want me ; but as there was a lady 
in the case I was not offended. Well, he is gone, poor fellow. A 
brilhant Hfe, only too brief. One would rather jog on for a dull 
fourscore, even without his supreme advantages." 

There was a pause. Mr. Grafton looked politely anticipative of 
he knew not what. And then, as the other sat smiling and did not 
speak, he himself began — 

"You may naturally suppose, that, as a friend of Mr. Hillersdon's, 
you may have been remembered for some graceful gift, or even a 
money legacy," he said blandly, " but I am sorry to tell you there 
are no such gifts or legacies. Our lamented client died intestate." 

"IIow do YOU know that — and so soon?" asked Jermyn, still 
smiling. 

" We have tlie fact under his own hand, in a letter dated only 
three days before his death. The letter is here," taking it from a 
brass rack on the table. " I will read you the passage." 
He cleared his throat, sighed, and read as follows — 
" ' My doctor, who has been hinting at wills and testaments for 
the last month, tells me that if I have to make my will I must make 
it without loss of an hour. But I am not gomg to make any will. 
My fortune will go just where I am content that it shall go, and I 
can trust those who will inherit to deal generously ^vith others whom 
I might have named had I nerved myself to the horror of will- 
making. I would as soon assist in the making of my cofBn. I 
shall leave it to my father to make a suitable acknowledgment, on 
my behalf, to you and Mr. Cranberry, whoso disinterested care of 
ray estate,' hum, hum, Iram," murmured the lawyer, folding the 
letter. " I need read no further." 

" No. It is a curious thing that a man should write those words 
who had three months before made a holograpli will, and had it 
duly wtnessed, in my presence." 
"When was this?" 
" On the third of May in this year." 



The World, the Flesh, mid the Devil. 347 

" Yon surprise me. Were you one of the witnesses? " 

"Certainly not." 

" And how did you know of the will ? " 

" I was present when it was made, and it was given into my 
possession. I have brought it to you, Mr. Crafton, in order that 
you may do as much for me as you did two years ago for my 
lamented friend, Gerard Hillersdon." 

He handed the lawyer a document which consisted of only two 
sheets of Bath Post, each sheet in Gerard Hillersdon's handwritinsr. 
and each sheet duly signed and attested. 

The first sheet set forth the nature of the testator's possessions, a 
list of securities; the second sheet bequeathed these to "Justin 
JermjTi, of 4, Norland Court, Piccadilly, whom I appoint my 
residuary legatee." 

" That will is good enough to stand, I think, Mr. Crafton." 

" An excellent will, although he does not particularise half his 
property." 

" No ; but I think the words residuary legatee will cover everything." 

"Assuredly. Was he of sound mind when he made this will." 

" He was never of unsound mind within my knowledge. You 
had better question the witnesses, his valet and his butler, as to his 
mental conchtion on the evening of May the third." 

" I A\'ill not trouble them. I am sorry for your disappointment, 
}*lr. Jermyn, though less sorry than I might have been had you a 
nearer claim on our deceased client. This will is waste paper." 

"The devil it is ? You don't pretend there is any subsequent will ? " 

" Not unless one was made after the letter I have read to you. 
Your will is rendered invaUd by our Ghent's marriage." 

"His man-iage?" 

"Yes. He was married on the third of June, at the Parish 
Church of Lowcombe, Berkshire. He kept his marriage dark, I 
know. There was no announcement in the papers. The lady was 
in poorish circumstances, I fancy, and the marriage altogether a 
romantic affair. She has been with him on his yacht ever since." 

" With him. Yes, I knew that she was with him. But his mfe ! 
That's a fiction." 

" If it is, one of the most genuine-looking marriage certificates I 
ever handled is a forgery. I have the certificate in my possession, 
sent to me by the clergjonan who performed the ceremony. Mr. 
Hillersdon having died intestate, his fortune, real and personal — 
there was very httle real property, by the way — will be divided 
between his father and his wife. Your only chance now, Mr. 
Jermyn, would be to try and marry the widow." 



34^ Gerard ; or, 

" Thanks for the achice. No, I don't think I should have much 
chance there. Well, I have lost friend and fortune — but I am here, 
and life is sv?eet. I am not^ dashed by your news, Mr. Grafton, 
though it is somewhat startling. Good day." 

He laughed his gnomish laugh, took up his hat in one hand and 
waved the other to the lawyer, with the lightest gesture of adieu, 
and so vanished, joyous and tranquU to the last — a man without 
■ conscience and -without passion. 

And what of Hester, enriched beyond the dreams of womanly 
avarice, but widowed in the morning of her life? Gan there be 
happiness for that lonely heart, charged with sad memories ? 

Yes, there is at least the happiness of a life devoted to good 
works, a life divided between the rural quiet of the village by the 
Thames and those crowded allej-s and shabby slums in which John 
Gumberland and his young wife labour, and in which Hester is 
their devoted and zealous lieutenant. In every scheme for the 
welfare of innocent little children, in every effort for the rescue of 
erring women and girls, Hester is an intelligent and unwearying 
helper. She does not scatter her wealth blindly or weakly. She is 
not caught by flowery language or flatteries addressed to her 
feminine vanity. She brings brain as well as heart to bear upon 
the business of philanthropy, and in all her dealings with the poor she 
has the gift of insight, which is second only to her gift of sympathy. 

If to help others in then- sorrow is to be happy, Hester should 
attain happiness ; but there are those who see upon the fair young 
face the sign and token of early death ; and in those meadow paths, 
and by the river where she and Gerard walked in their summer 
dream of a deathless love it may be that those pathetic eyes of 
hers already see the shadow of the end. 

She brought her husband from the lovely land where he died to 
lay him in Lowcombe churchyard, and the summer sun seldom goes 
down without glorifying one quiet figure, seated or kneeling in the 
secluded shelter of a great yew tree, by Gerard Ilillorsdou's grave. 



THE JiXD. 



LOM>ON : rUINTED BV WILLIAM CLOWES AND S'^NS, LIMITHD, 
STA5IF0KD STKEET AND CHAEINQ CKOSS. 



DATE DUE 



ynp ,n, 


^ 9-\%^\ 














— M'y •' 


q iqq-t 






o 


5 133*- 






















































































































C^YLORD 






PRINTED IN U S.A. 



UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 




AA 000 598 112 




UNIVERSITV OF CA 




BIVEBSIDE LIBRARY 



3 1210 00834 2238